Palm Sunday. The beginning of Holy Week and the feast that marks the beginning of Christ's journey to the Cross. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, he was revered by the people, who took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting: "Hossana! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" On Palm Sunday, the faithful do the same thing, recreating this moment of praise through participating in a procession in which everyone carries a palm branch into the liturgy, welcoming Christ into their hearts and beginning Holy Week.
But what happens when the Mass is over? What happens after you bring your palm leaves home? It's a tradition among Catholics to weave their palms into small crosses, roses, or other holy symbols, but palms can't last forever! Oftentimes, they lay forgotten after Easter, collecting dust or sitting in the family Rosary basket, a beautiful symbol, but what's even more beautiful is how the palm leaves continue to serve the season of Lent long after Palm Sunday.
So, have you ever wondered where the ashes for Ash Wednesday come from? Yep, that's right. The very same palms we wave at the beginning of Holy Week are the ashes that we don at the beginning of Lent!
The liturgical year is specially designed by Holy Mother Church to constantly remind us that everything we do is a part of the larger picture of our salvation and the traditions that are so vital to our worship.
So this Palm Sunday, when your palm is handed to you and you wave it as you sing the "Sanctus", and when next Lent you have those ashes spread across your forehead remember that "from dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return" has a deeper meaning than we will ever know. Have a blessed Holy Week.