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This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 29 March 2015 to 14 April 2015.

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Regina Cæli

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This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 26 March 2015 to 6 April 2015.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

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Homilies

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Easter is the most important day of the Christian calendar, even more important than Christmas. Here are 9 things you need to know.

The great day is finally here: Easter, the most important day of the Christian calendar. More important even than Christmas.

What happened on this day?

Was Jesus’ resurrection a real, historical event?

How does the Church celebrate this day?

Is Easter a pagan holiday?

Here are 8 things you need to know.

 

1. What happened on Easter?

Among other things:

  • The women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body.
  • They saw angels, who told them he wasn’t there.
  • They went to tell the apostles, who initially didn’t believe them.
  • Peter and the beloved disciple rushed to see the tomb and found it empty.
  • Mary Magdalen, in particular, had an encounter with the risen Christ.
  • So did the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
  • So did Peter.
  • So did all the apostles except Thomas (who would have one later).
  • Jesus had risen from the dead!

To read about the events in the New Testament, you can use these links:

 

2. Was Jesus’ Resurrection a real, historical event or something else?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

 639 The mystery of Christ’s resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness.

In about A.D. 56 St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians:

“I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. . .”

The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.

 

3. What is the significance of the empty tomb?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

 640 . . . The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise.

Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection.

This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter.  The disciple “whom Jesus loved” affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered “the linen cloths lying there”, “he saw and believed”.

This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb’s condition that the absence of Jesus’ body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.

 

4. What significance to the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ have?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

641 Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One.

Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ’s Resurrection for the apostles themselves. . . .

642 Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles – and Peter in particular – in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning.

As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. the faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them.

Peter and the Twelve are the primary “witnesses to his Resurrection”, but they are not the only ones – Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.

643 Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact.

 

5. What significance does Christ’s Resurrection have for us?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

651 “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ’s works and teachings.

All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by his Resurrection has given the definitive proof of his divine authority, which he had promised.

 658 Christ, “the first-born from the dead” ( Col 1:18), is the principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls (cf Rom 6:4), and one day by the new life he will impart to our bodies (cf Rom 8:11).

 

6. How do we commemorate this day?

The big celebration of Easter was on the evening of Holy Saturday. It was the Easter Vigil Mass. Consequently, Easter Sunday celebrations–at least as far as the Church is concerned (as opposed to all the egg hunts and baby ducks and marshmallow peeps)–is more restrained.

According to the main document governing the celebrations connected with Easter, Paschalis Solemnitatis:

97. Mass is to be celebrated on Easter Day with great solemnity.

It is appropriate that the penitential rite on this day take the form of a sprinkling with water blessed at the Vigil, during which the antiphon Vidi aquam, or some other song of baptismal character should be sung.

The fonts at the entrance to the church should also be filled with the same water.

 

7. What is the role of the “Paschal [i.e., Easter] candle”?

Paschales Solemnitatis explains:

99. The paschal candle has its proper place either by the ambo or by the altar and should be lit at least in all the more solemn liturgical celebrations of the season until Pentecost Sunday, whether at Mass, or at Morning and Evening Prayer.

After the Easter season the candle should be kept with honor in the baptistry, so that in the celebration of Baptism the candles of the baptized may be lit from them.

In the celebration of funerals, the paschal candle should be placed near the coffin to indicate that the death of a Christian is his own passover.

The paschal candle should not otherwise be lit nor placed in the sanctuary outside the Easter season.

 

8. Is Easter a pagan holiday?

Absolutely not!

Here’s a video I did on precisely that subject:

 

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On Holy Saturday the earth waits in stillness for the Resurrection of the Lord. Here are 9 things you need to know about it. On Holy Saturday the earth waits in stillness for the Resurrection of the Lord. Here are 9 things you need to know about it.

Everytime we say the creed, we note that Jesus “descended into hell.”

Holy Saturday is the day that commemorates this event.

What happened on this day, and how do we celebrate it?

Here are 12 things you need to know.

 

1. What happened on the first Holy Saturday?

Here on earth, Jesus’ disciples mourned his death and, since it was a sabbath day, they rested.

Luke notes that the women returned home “and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56).

At the tomb, the guards that had been stationed there kept watch over the place to make sure that the disciples did not steal Jesus’ body.

Meanwhile . . .

 

2. What happened to Jesus while he was dead?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.

Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:

“It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Saviour in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”

Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.” The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment.

This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

 

3. How do we commemorate this day?

According to the main document governing the celebrations connected with Easter, Paschales Solemnitatis:

73. On Holy Saturday the Church is, as it were, at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on his passion and death, and on his descent into hell, and awaiting his resurrection with prayer and fasting.

It is highly recommended that on this day the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer be celebrated with the participation of the people (cf. n. 40).

Where this cannot be done, there should be some celebration of the Word of God, or some act of devotion suited to the mystery celebrated this day.

74. The image of Christ crucified or lying in the tomb, or the descent into hell, which mystery Holy Saturday recalls, as also an image of the sorrowful Virgin Mary can be placed in the church for the veneration of the faithful.

Fasting is also encouraged, but not required, on this day.

 

4. Are the sacraments celebrated?

For the most part, no. Paschales Solemnitatis explains:

75. On this day the Church abstains strictly from the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass.

Holy Communion may only be given in the form of Viaticum.

The celebration of marriages is forbidden, as also the celebration of other sacraments, except those of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick.

The prohibition on saying Mass applies to the part of the day before the Easter Vigil Mass (see below).

Baptism in danger of death is also permitted.

 

5. What is the Easter Vigil?

A vigil is the liturgical commemoration of a notable feast, held on the evening preceding the feast.

The term comes from the Latin word vigilia, which means “wakefulness,” and which came to be used when the faithful stayed awake to pray and do devotional exercises in anticipation of the feast.

Easter Vigil is the vigil held on the evening before Easter.

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

80. From the very outset the Church has celebrated that annual Pasch, which is the solemnity of solemnities, above all by means of a night vigil.

For the resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our faith and hope, and through Baptism and Confirmation we are inserted into the Paschal Mystery of Christ, dying, buried, and raised with him, and with him we shall also reign.

The full meaning of Vigil is a waiting for the coming of the Lord.

 

6. When should Easter Vigil be celebrated?

Paschales Solemnitatis explains:

 78. “The entire celebration of the Easter Vigil takes place at night. It should not begin before nightfall; it should end before daybreak on Sunday.”

This rule is to be taken according to its strictest sense. Reprehensible are those abuses and practices which have crept into many places in violation of this ruling, whereby the Easter Vigil is celebrated at the time of day that it is customary to celebrate anticipated Sunday Masses.

Those reasons which have been advanced in some quarters for the anticipation of the Easter Vigil, such as lack of public order, are not put forward in connection with Christmas night, nor other gatherings of various kinds.

 

7. What happens at the Easter Vigil?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

81. The order for the Easter Vigil is arranged so that

  • after the service of light and the Easter Proclamation (which is the first part of the Vigil),
  • Holy Church meditates on the wonderful works which the Lord God wrought for his people from the earliest times (the second part or Liturgy of the Word),
  • to the moment when, together with those new members reborn in Baptism (third part),
  • she is called to the table prepared by the Lord for his Church—the commemoration of his death and resurrection—until he comes (fourth part).

 

8. What happens during the service of light?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

82. . . . In so far as possible, a suitable place should be prepared outside the church for the blessing of the new fire, whose flames should be such that they genuinely dispel the darkness and light up the night.

The paschal candle should be prepared, which for effective symbolism must be made of wax, never be artificial, be renewed each year, be only one in number, and be of sufficiently large size so that it may evoke the truth that Christ is the light of the world. It is blessed with the signs and words prescribed in the Missal or by the Conference of Bishops.

83. The procession, by which the people enter the church, should be led by the light of the paschal candle alone. Just as the children of Israel were guided at night by a pillar of fire, so similarly, Christians follow the risen Christ. There is no reason why to each response “Thanks be to God” there should not be added some acclamation in honor of Christ.

The light from the paschal candle should be gradually passed to the candles which it is fitting that all present should hold in their hands, the electric lighting being switched off.

 

9. What happens during the Easter Proclamation?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

 84. The deacon makes the Easter Proclamation which tells, by means of a great poetic text, the whole Easter mystery placed in the context of the economy of salvation.

In case of necessity, where there is no deacon, and the celebrating priest is unable to sing it, a cantor may do so.

The Bishops’ Conferences may adapt this proclamation by inserting into it acclamations from the people.

 

10. What happens during the Scripture readings?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

85. The readings from Sacred Scripture constitute the second part of the Vigil. They give an account of the outstanding deeds of the history of salvation, which the faithful are helped to meditate calmly upon by the singing of the responsorial psalm, by a silent pause and by the celebrant’s prayer.

The restored Order for the Vigil has seven readings from the Old Testament chosen from the Law and the Prophets, which are in use everywhere according to the most ancient tradition of East and West, and two readings from the New Testament, namely from the Apostle and from the Gospel.

Thus the Church, “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets” explains Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

Consequently wherever this is possible, all the readings should be read so that the character of the Easter Vigil, which demands that it be somewhat prolonged, be respected at all costs.

Where, however, pastoral conditions require that the number of readings be reduced, there should be at least three readings from the Old Testament, taken from the Law and the Prophets; the reading from Exodus chapter 14 with its canticle must never be omitted.

87. After the readings from the Old Testament, the hymn “Gloria in excelsis” is sung, the bells are rung in accordance with local custom, the collect is recited, and the celebration moves on to the readings from the New Testament. An exhortation from the Apostle on Baptism as an insertion into Christ’s Paschal Mystery is read.

Then all stand and the priest intones the “Alleluia” three times, each time raising the pitch. The people repeat it after him.

If it is necessary, the psalmist or cantor may sing the “Alleluia,” which the people then take up as an acclamation to be interspersed between the verses of Psalm 117, so often cited by the Apostles in their Easter preaching.

Finally, the resurrection of the Lord is proclaimed from the Gospel as the high point of the whole Liturgy of the Word.

After the Gospel a homily is to be given, no matter how brief.

 

11. What happens during the baptismal liturgy?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

88. The third part of the Vigil is the baptismal liturgy. Christ’s passover and ours is now celebrated.

This is given full expression in those churches which have a baptismal font, and more so when the Christian initiation of adults is held, or at least the Baptism of infants.

Even if there are no candidates for Baptism, the blessing of baptismal water should still take place in parish churches. If this blessing does not take place at the baptismal font, but in the sanctuary, baptismal water should be carried afterwards to the baptistry there to be kept throughout the whole of paschal time.

Where there are neither candidates for Baptism nor any need to bless the font, Baptism should be commemorated by the blessing of water destined for sprinkling upon the people.

89. Next follows the renewal of baptismal promises, introduced by some words on the part of the celebrating priest.

The faithful reply to the questions put to them, standing and holding lighted candles in their hands. They are then sprinkled with water: in this way the gestures and words remind them of the Baptism they have received.

The celebrating priest sprinkles the people by passing through the main part of the church while all sing the antiphon “Vidi aquam” or another suitable song of a baptismal character.

 

12. What happens during the Eucharistic liturgy?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

90. The celebration of the Eucharist forms the fourth part of the Vigil and marks its high point, for it is in the fullest sense the Easter Sacrament, that is to say, the commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross and the presence of the risen Christ, the completion of Christian initiation, and the foretaste of the eternal pasch.

92. It is fitting that in the Communion of the Easter Vigil full expression be given to the symbolism of the Eucharist, namely by consuming the Eucharist under the species of both bread and wine. The local Ordinaries will consider the appropriateness of such a concession and its ramifications.

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If Jesus died on the cross in A.D. 33 and made forgiveness possible, how does that apply to people who lived before or after this event? (Like us!)

Good Friday is the most somber day of the Christian year.

It is the day our Savior died for us.

It is the day we were redeemed from our sins by the voluntary death of God Himself at the hands of man.

Here are 9 things you need to know.

 

1. Why is this day called “Good Friday”

It’s not for the reason you might think.

Despite the fact that “good” is a common English word, tempting us to say the name is based on the fact that something very good (our redemption) happened on this day, that’s not where the name comes from.

Precisely where it does come from is disputed. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

The origin of the term Good is not clear. Some say it is from “God’s Friday” (Gottes Freitag); others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag, and not speciallyEnglish.

It is also argued that the name is based on a Medieval use of the word good where it meant “holy.” Thus “Good Friday” would have come from “Holy Friday,” the same way we have Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday.

 

2. What happened on the first Good Friday?

Quite a number of things. During the night, Jesus had been arrested and taken before the high priests Annas and Caiaphas. It was during this time that Peter denied him.

According to the gospels, Jesus:

  • Was taken before Pilate in the morning
  • Sent to Herod
  • Returned to Pilate
  • Was mocked and beaten
  • Saw Barabbas released in his stead
  • Was crowned with thorns
  • Was condemned to death
  • Carried the crushing burden of his cross
  • Told the weeping women what would happen in the future
  • Was crucified between two thieves
  • Forgave those who crucified him
  • Entrusted the Virgin Mary to the beloved disciple
  • Assured the good thief of his salvation
  • Said his famous seven last words
  • Cried out and died

In addition:

  • There was darkness over the land
  • There was an earthquake
  • The veil of the temple was torn in two
  • Many saints of the Old Testament period were raised
  • A soldier pierced Christ’s side and blood and water flowed out
  • Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body
  • He was buried in Joseph’s own tomb
  • A guard was set over the tomb
  • All Jesus’ friends and family grieved at his death

If you’d like to read the gospel accounts themselves, you can use these links:

 

3. How do we celebrate Good Friday today?

According to the main document governing the celebrations connected with Easter, Paschales Solemnitatis:

58. On this day, when “Christ our passover was sacrificed,” the Church:

  • meditates on the passion of her Lord and Spouse,
  • adores the cross,
  • commemorates her origin from the side of Christ asleep on the cross,
  • and intercedes for the salvation of the whole world.

 

4. Are fast and abstinence required on Good Friday?

Yes. Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

60. Good Friday is a day of penance to be observed as of obligation in the whole Church, and indeed through abstinence and fasting.

For more information on the requirement of fast and abstinence, you should click here.

 

5. Are the sacraments celebrated on Good Friday?

For the most part, no. Good Friday is the only day of the year on which the celebration of Mass is forbidden.

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

59. On this day, in accordance with ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Eucharist.

Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful during the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion alone, though it may be brought at any time of the day to the sick who cannot take part in the celebration.

61. All celebration of the sacraments on this day is strictly prohibited, except for the sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick.

Funerals are to be celebrated without singing, music, or the tolling of bells.

Baptism in danger of death is also permitted.

 

6. What liturgical celebrations occur on this day?

The principal one is known as the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. It includes:

  • A liturgy of the word
  • The adoration of the cross
  • A Communion service using hosts already consecrated.

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

63. The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion is to take place in the afternoon, at about three o’clock.

The time will be chosen which seems most appropriate for pastoral reasons in order to allow the people to assemble more easily, for example shortly after midday, or in the late evening, however not later than nine o’clock.

 

7. How is the cross venerated?

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

68. For veneration of the cross, let a cross be used that is of appropriate size and beauty, and let one of the forms for this rite as found in the Roman Missal be followed.

The rite should be carried out with the splendor worthy of the mystery of our salvation: both the invitation pronounced at the unveiling of the cross, and the people’s response should be made in song, and a period of respectful silence is to be observed after each act of veneration—the celebrant standing and holding the raised cross.

69. The cross is to be presented to each of the faithful individually for their adoration since the personal adoration of the cross is a most important feature in this celebration; only when necessitated by the large numbers of faithful present should the rite of veneration be made simultaneously by all present.

Only one cross should be used for the veneration, as this contributes to the full symbolism of the rite.

During the veneration of the cross the antiphons, “Reproaches,” and hymns should be sung, so that the history of salvation be commemorated through song. Other appropriate songs may also be sung (cf. n. 42).

 

8. What happens after the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion?

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

71. After the celebration, the altar is stripped; the cross remains however, with four candles.

An appropriate place (for example, the chapel of repose used for reservation of the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday) can be prepared within the church, and there the Lord’s cross is placed so that the faithful may venerate and kiss it, and spend some time in meditation.

 

9. Are other devotions appropriate to Good Friday?

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

72. Devotions such as the “Way of the Cross,” processions of the passion, and commemorations of the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary are not, for pastoral reasons, to be neglected.

The texts and songs used, however, should be adapted to the spirit of the Liturgy of this day.

Such devotions should be assigned to a time of day that makes it quite clear that the Liturgical celebration by its very nature far surpasses them in importance.

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Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration mass on 19 March 2013.

This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 12 March 2015 to 31 March 2015.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Letters

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “The laity are called to become a leaven of Christian living within society.” @Pontifex 26 March 2015
  • “Life is a precious gift, but we realize this only when we give it to others.” @Pontifex 27 March 2015
  • “As disciples of Christ, how can we not be concerned for the good of the weakest?” @Pontifex 28 March 2015
  • “Holy Week is a privileged time when we are called to draw near to Jesus: friendship with him is shown in times of difficulty.” @Pontifex 30 March 2015
  • “Confession is the sacrament of the tenderness of God, his way of embracing us.” @Pontifex 31 March 2015

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Tent or Temple?

by Jimmy Akin

in Bible

tabernacle-jewishIt is often pointed out that the author of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of the Jerusalem temple as if it is still standing.

Repeatedly. He refers to it as still standing multiple times.

This suggests that the book of Hebrews was written before the Romans destroyed the temple in A.D. 70.

The thing is, the author of Hebrews doesn’t refer to it as the temple. Instead, he refers to it as the “tent.”

This is a reference to the “tent of meeting” or “tabernacle” that the Hebrews built under Moses, before the temple was first constructed by Solomon.

Some have thought that this reference means he wasn’t referring to the temple, which might or might not have been destroyed by the time the letter was written.

They also propose various other arguments to cast doubt on whether the references to the still-functioning temple/tent reveal a pre-A.D. 70 date, but let’s set those aside. Here I want to focus on the one based on the references to the temple as if it were the tent of meeting.

This could simply be a literary way of referring to the temple, based on its pre-history as the tent of meeting.

Is there evidence that this view is correct?

I think there is. In Hebrews 9:6-9, we read:

These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people.

By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary is not yet opened as long as the outer tent is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age).

Got that?

The author regards the “outer tent” as “still standing,” and this “is symbolic for the present age.”

If the successor to the temple, the temple, had already been destroyed then it is very hard to imagine how he could conceive of the “outer tent” as “still standing.”

It would have–rather obviously–have fallen and thus not be symbolic of the present age.

How could he expect his readers in a post-70 environment to see the outward manifestation of the tent as still standing and symbolizing the present age?

It thus seems far more likely that he was simply using the language of the “tent” as a literary way of describing the temple–before it fell.

Why would he do that?

Perhaps because–precisely because–the tabernacle was a temporary structure that gave way to the temple.

By referring to the temple itself in this way, he suggests that the temple itself is a temporary, outward, manifestation of the true, spiritual reality to which access will be granted when the temple falls.

In other words, it was precisely because the temple had not yet fallen that he refers to it as the tent.

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triumphal-entry-medium2bPalm Sunday–or is it Passion Sunday?–marks the beginning of Holy Week.

This day commemorates not one but two very significant events in the life of Christ.

Here are 9 things you need to know.

 

1. What is this day called?

The day is called both “Palm Sunday” and “Passion Sunday.”

The first name comes from the fact that it commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the crowd had palm branches (John 12:13).

The second name comes from the fact that the narrative of the Passion is read on this Sunday (it otherwise wouldn’t be read on a Sunday, since the next Sunday is about the Resurrection).

According to the main document on the celebration of the feasts connected with Easter, Paschales Solemnitatis:

Holy Week begins on “Passion (or Palm) Sunday” which joins the foretelling of Christ’s regal triumph and the proclamation of the passion. The connection between both aspects of the Paschal Mystery should be shown and explained in the celebration and catechesis of this day.

 

2. One of the notable features of this day is a procession before Mass. Why do we do this and how is it supposed to work?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

The commemoration of the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem has, according to ancient custom, been celebrated with a solemn procession, in which the faithful in song and gesture imitate the Hebrew children who went to meet the Lord singing “Hosanna.”

The procession may take place only once, before the Mass which has the largest attendance, even if this should be in the evening either of Saturday or Sunday. The congregation should assemble in a secondary church or chapel or in some other suitable place distinct from the church to which the procession will move. . . .

The palms or branches are blessed so that they can be carried in the procession. The palms should be taken home where they will serve as a reminder of the victory of Christ be given which they celebrated in the procession.

 

3. Are we only supposed to use palms? What if you don’t have palms where you live?

It is not necessary that palm branches be used in the procession. Other forms of greenery can also be used.

According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:

The procession, commemorating Christ’s messianic entry into Jerusalem, is joyous and popular in character. The faithful usually keep palm or olive branches, or other greenery which have been blessed on Palm Sunday in their homes or in their work places.

 

4. Should any instruction be given to the faithful?

According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:

The faithful, however, should be instructed as to the meaning of this celebration so that they might grasp its significance.

They should be opportunely reminded that the important thing is participation at the procession and not only the obtaining of palm or olive branches.

Palms or olive branches should not be kept as amulets, or for therapeutic or magical reasons to dispel evil spirits or to prevent the damage these cause in the fields or in the homes, all of which can assume a certain superstitious guise.

Palms and olive branches are kept in the home as a witness to faith in Jesus Christ, the messianic king, and in his Paschal Victory.

 

5. What was Jesus doing at the Triumphal Entry?

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains:

Jesus claims the right of kings, known throughout antiquity, to requisition modes of transport.

The use of an animal on which no one had yet sat is a further pointer to the right of kings. Most striking, though, are the Old Testament allusions that give a deeper meaning to the whole episode. . . .

For now let us note this: Jesus is indeed making a royal claim. He wants his path and his action to be understood in terms of Old Testament promises that are fulfilled in his person. . . .

At the same time, through this anchoring of the text in Zechariah 9:9, a “Zealot” exegesis of the kingdom is excluded: Jesus is not building on violence; he is not instigating a military revolt against Rome. His power is of another kind: it is in God’s poverty, God’s peace, that he identifies the only power that can redeem [Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 2].

 

6. What does the reaction of the crowd show?

It shows that they recognized him as their messianic king.

Benedict XVI notes:

The spreading out of garments likewise belongs to the tradition of Israelite kingship (cf. 2 Kings 9:13). What the disciples do is a gesture of enthronement in the tradition of the Davidic kingship, and it points to the Messianic hope that grew out of the Davidic tradition.

The pilgrims who came to Jerusalem with Jesus are caught up in the disciples’ enthusiasm. They now spread their garments on the street along which Jesus passes.

They pluck branches from the trees and cry out verses from Psalm 118, words of blessing from Israel’s pilgrim liturgy, which on their lips become a Messianic proclamation: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mk 11:9–10; cf. Ps 118:26).

7. What does the word “Hosanna” mean?

Benedict XVI explains:

Originally this was a word of urgent supplication, meaning something like: Come to our aid! The priests would repeat it in a monotone on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, while processing seven times around the altar of sacrifice, as an urgent prayer for rain.

But as the Feast of Tabernacles gradually changed from a feast of petition into one of praise, so too the cry for help turned more and more into a shout of jubilation.

By the time of Jesus, the word had also acquired Messianic overtones. In the Hosanna acclamation, then, we find an expression of the complex emotions of the pilgrims accompanying Jesus and of his disciples: joyful praise of God at the moment of the processional entry, hope that the hour of the Messiah had arrived, and at the same time a prayer that the Davidic kingship and hence God’s kingship over Israel would be reestablished.

 

8. Is the same crowd that cheered Jesus’ arrival the one that demanded his crucifixion just a few days later?

Benedict XVI argues that it was not:

All three Synoptic Gospels, as well as Saint John, make it very clear that the scene of Messianic homage to Jesus was played out on his entry into the city and that those taking part were not the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but the crowds who accompanied Jesus and entered the Holy City with him.

This point is made most clearly in Matthew’s account through the passage immediately following the Hosanna to Jesus, Son of David: “When he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying: Who is this? And the crowds said: This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee” (Mt 21:10–11). . . .

People had heard of the prophet from Nazareth, but he did not appear to have any importance for Jerusalem, and the people there did not know him.

The crowd that paid homage to Jesus at the gateway to the city was not the same crowd that later demanded his crucifixion.

 

9. This brings us to the Passion Narrative recorded in the Gospel. How is this to be read at Mass?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

33. The passion narrative occupies a special place. It should be sung or read in the traditional way, that is, by three persons who take the parts of Christ, the narrator and the people. The passion is proclaimed by deacons or priests, or by lay readers. In the latter case, the part of Christ should be reserved to the priest.

The proclamation of the passion should be without candles and incense, the greeting and the signs of the cross are omitted; only a deacon asks for the blessing, as he does before the Gospel.

For the spiritual good of the faithful the passion should be proclaimed in its entirety, and the readings which precede it should not be omitted.

 

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the_drama_of_salvation_1_1I’m very excited that my new book, The Drama of Salvation, is finally out!

This is the first full-length book I’ve had come out since the best-sellingThe Fathers Know Best.

We got the advance copies a few days ago, and the full shipment will be in our warehouse next week.

It’s going to be available in both hardback and electronic format. Both are available for pre-order right now.

However, I wanted to let you know about another edition that we also have coming out.

This Enhanced Edition is available with the hardback version of the book, and it comes with two bonuses:

1)   I’ll be autographing each copy, personally

2)   It will come with a special study guide that I wrote, with questions to help you get the most out of the book.

See below for how to get your copy.

 

An Important Topic

All of us—every man, woman, and child on earth—are caught up in a drama which will have eternal consequences. In this life, all of us are suspended between heaven and hell.

To rescue us, God sent his son—Jesus Christ—to offer his life on the Cross. This supreme act of sacrifice made salvation possible for all mankind.

Yet now, two thousand years later, few people understand what Jesus did or how it affects us.

Worse yet, there are endless arguments between Christians of different persuasions, leading to confusion on a massive scale.

That’s why I wrote The Drama of Salvation.

In it, I use Scripture and Church teaching to cut through the confusion and provide clear answers on important issues like:

  • What we need to do to be saved
  • Whether salvation is a one-time event or a process
  • Whether penance is part of God’s plan
  • What indulgences are
  • How faith and works relate
  • What the Church teaches about justification
  • How far apart Protestants and Catholics are on this question
  • Whether you have to be a Catholic (or a Christian) to be saved

I’m not aware of any other book that takes on these questions and deals with them in a concise and thorough way.

 

What People Are Saying

I’ve been very gratified by what people who have seen The Drama of Salvation have been saying about the book. For example, well-known author and speaker Steve Ray, said:

“This is a one-stop source to learn all the perspectives distilled down to an understandable and clear-cut conclusion. Using Scripture and Sacred Tradition Akin clears the fog and explains salvation for the scholar and the novice alike. This book should be in the hands of every person concerned with their eternal destiny.”

And Fr. Ronald Tacelli, co-author of the Handbook of Catholic Apologetics, wrote:

“At the banquet table of apologetics, Jimmy Akin’s The Drama of Salvation is the finest of fine crystal. It is a serious work by a serious and supremely gifted apologist on a topic of central concern for everyone.”

 

How to Get Your Autographed Copy of The Drama of Salvation

The special Enhanced Edition of The Drama of Salvationwith autograph and study guide—is available for those who donate to support the apostolic work of Catholic Answers.

If you’re able to give $55 or more then, as a thank you for your generosity, we’ll send you the Enhanced Edition of The Drama of Salvation.

If you’re able to give $75 or more, we’ll also include a hardcover copy of The Handbook of Indulgences, which is the Church’s official book of indulgences and includes the text of the many indulgences you can gain.

Finally, if you are able to give $125 or more, we’ll also include a copy of Tim Staples’ 5-CD set Last Call: The Catholic Teaching on Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell.

Whatever amount you can afford, you have our sincere thanks.

Thank you for reading this, and I hope you enjoy the book!

Click here to support Catholic Answers and get your autographed copy!

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st-paul-1 (1)Sometimes people in the Bible experience name changes. Some famous examples include Abram (Abraham), Jacob (Israel), and Simon (Cephas, Peter).

In each of these cases, there was a specific reason, and the new name had special significance (thus the name Peter means “Rock,” with Simon being the rock on which Jesus built his Church; Matt. 16:18).

Often, people propose that Paul belongs in this category.

 

Saul, also [called] Paul

When he’s first introduced in Acts, he’s known as Saul, but then later, once his ministry outside the Jewish community begins, Luke starts referring to him as Paul.

The transition point comes in Acts 13:9, where we read:

But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him [Elymas the magician] . . .

After that, Luke regularly refers to him as Paul (except in flashbacks dealing with Paul’s conversion).

Many have inferred that Paul changed his name at this point, and they’ve wondered what religiously-charged significance his new name might have.

 

What Paul Means

The name Paul (Latin, Paulus, also spelled Paullus) doesn’t seem to have much religiously-charged significance.

It means “small” or “little.”

One could try to see this as religiously significant (perhaps being a reflection of Paul’s own religious self-perception; cf. 1 Cor. 15:9 and Eph. 3:8, where Paul talks about himself as the least of the apostles and the least of the Lord’s people).

However, most scholars have thought this implausible and have sought a different explanation.

 

A Victory Title?

Some authors have proposed that Saul took the name Paul at this point because, in this very story, he converted the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus.

In this case, the name would represent a personal victory of his.

Taking names that reflected personal victories was not unknown in the Roman world. For example, the Roman general Scipio was famously granted the agnomen “Africanus” because of his victories in Africa during the Second Punic War. He thus became known as Scipio Africanus.

But this understanding of “Paul” is unlikely. Victory titles like “Africanus” were awarded by the state, and that is not in question here.

Further, Luke introduces the name before the conversion of Sergius Paulus, which occurs in 13:12.

He also doesn’t draw any connection to the conversion. He simply says that Saul is “also Paul” (literally from the Greek; kai ho Paulos).

 

A Culturally Friendly Name?

A more plausible view is that Saul began using the name Paul because it was more familiar to the Gentile audience to which he was now ministering.

This would be basically the same approach that many people take today when they are working in a different culture than the one they were raised in.

For example, a man from China with the name Shen might choose to be called Seán, Shawn, or Shaun when working in America.

Using a name that is familiar to those in the local culture can help smooth social interactions.

That’s something that could be particularly attractive for an evangelist, as a foreign-sounding name could make him seem more like the representative of an alien culture and hamper his ability to get his religious message across.

The use of Paul may thus have been part of Paul’s effort to be all things to all men in hopes of winning them to Christ (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

This still leaves a question, though . . .

 

Who Gave Paul the Name?

It is possible that Saul himself picked the name Paul when he began ministering to Gentiles, but Luke does not suggest this. He simply says that Saul was “also Paul.”

This raises the possibility that Saul had this name from his birth—that he didn’t give it to himself; his parents did.

Paul was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37-38), which meant that he was a citizen of the city of Rome itself.

This means that, in addition to whatever name he went by in the Jewish community, Paul likely had an additional Roman name.

What’s more, he was born a citizen (Acts 22:25-29), which means that his Roman name was likely given to him by his parents, and specifically his father.

He thus was likely Paulus from birth.

 

How Roman Names Worked

Although this wasn’t true of everybody, Romans classically had three names, known as the tria nomina:

  1. Praenomen (“first name”): This was a person’s individual name.
  2. Nomen (“name”): This was a person’s family name.
  3. Cognomen (“co-name”): This was originally an additional personal name, often similar to what we would call a nickname, though its function changed over time. During the period of the empire, many people had multiple cognomens.

Thus the founder of the Roman Republic—Lucius Junius Brutus—had the personal name Lucius, he was of the Junius family, and he had the nickname Brutus (Latin, “the Dullard,” because he faked being simpleminded).

 

Saul, “the One Who Saunters”?

In his excellent book, Paul and First-Century Letter Writing, E. Randolph Richards proposes that “Paul” was likely Saul’s cognomen, though he acknowledges it could also have been his first name or family name.

He writes:

Paul did not change his name from Saul to Paul when he began working with Gentiles.

Rather, he stopped using Saul, his first name and began using his surname when he moved into the Gentile world [p. 128].

What’s particularly interesting is the reason he suggests Paul started going by this name rather than Saul:

We cannot be sure why he made this change. Perhaps he was distancing himself from his Jewish heritage, but this is unlikely. We do not see Paul ashamed of his heritage.

More importantly, it is unlikely that the typical person on the street had ever heard of the Jewish king Saul from a thousand years earlier.

Paul likely avoided using Saul because of a very common problem in crosscultural work: one’s name means something negative in another’s language.

In a footnote, Richards adds:

My supernomen [nickname], “Randy,” carries a similar problem in some countries. My colleague Bobby found a problem with his name when working among Muslims in Malaysia. His name phonetically means “pig.”

So what unflattering meaning would Saulos have had? Richards continues:

In his case, Saulos had a negative meaning in normal Greek; prostitutes were said to walk in a provocative, or saulos, manner.

He then adds a footnote to the Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek-English Lexicon, noting that saulos can be defined as a “loose, wanton gait,” before continuing:

Since his hearers were unlikely to have heard of Saulos as a name, they might make the unfortunate conclusion that it was some sort of nickname.

Paul probably avoided this problem by using his surname, a common and quite reputable Roman name.

Interesting suggestion!

One can certainly see why a travelling evangelist might not want people thinking he had the nickname “the one who saunters.”

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