Catholic Church prepares to enter Holy Week with celebration of Palm Sunday

Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes (PNC file photo)

The Catholic Church on Guam will usher in Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday tomorrow, April 5 in churches throughout the island.

Archbishop Michael Byrnes and priests throughout the island will celebrate Palm Sunday Masses without congregations physically present in keeping with safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The faithful are encouraged to be in spiritual communion by joining lifestreams or broadcasts of Palm Sunday Masses from the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica and a number of other Archdiocese of Agana parishes.

During Palm Sunday, priests will bless the palm leaves at their sites indoors without the faithful being present. Palms may be distributed to Catholics much later, when the COVID-19 emergency is over.

Archbishop Byrnes also announces that Chrism Mass will not be celebrated this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual Mass sees the anointing of the holy oils which the Church uses during different ceremonies at all the parishes throughout the year.

As the Church on Guam and throughout the world enter Holy Week in anticipation of Easter Sunday and the glorious resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, the faithful are encouraged to follow the Holy Week liturgies such as the Passion of our Lord and prayers from their individual homes. Pray the Holy Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, reflect on scripture in the Bible and use this time of separation and relative stillness to contemplate Jesus Christ’ suffering and crucifixion on the Cross and Jesus Christ in our lives.

Archbishop Byrnes sends his love and prayers to everyone, most especially those who are suffering from COVID-19 or who have suffered the loss of loved ones from this virus.

Holy Father’s special message before Holy Week

In a tender message to all people before the start of Holy Week, Pope Francis also shared his prayers and affection to the world, most especially to those who are suffering.

The pope asked everyone to make the best use of this time and make a “gesture of tenderness to those who suffer.”

“Let us be generous, let us help those in need in our neighborhood; let us look out for the loneliest people, perhaps by telephone or social network,” Pope Francis said. “Let us pray to the Lord for those who are in difficulty in Italy and the world.”

“Even if we are isolated, thought and spirit can go far with the creativity of love,” the pope added. “This is what is needed today: the creativity of love.”

“We will celebrate Holy Week in a truly unusual way, which manifests and sums up the message of the Gospel, that of God’s boundless love,” Pope Francis continued. “And in the silence of our cities, the Easter Gospel will resound.”

The pope cited the Apostle Paul who said, “And he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him Who died for them and was raised again.” (2 For. 5:15)

“In the risen Jesus, life conquered death. This Paschal faith nourishes our hope,” Pope Francis said. “I would like to share it with you this evening. It is the hope of a better time in which we can be better, finally freed from evil and this pandemic.”

“It is a hope: hope does not disappoint; it is not an illusion … beside each other, in love and patience we can prepare a better time in these days,” the pope said.