Pope Francis urged Catholics to focus on the cross during Holy Week as he celebrated Mass on Palm Sunday.
Offering Mass at the Altar of the Chair March 28, the pope said that Holy Week was an opportunity to rediscover “amazement” at Christ’s saving Passion.
“During this Holy Week, let us lift our eyes to the cross, in order to receive the grace of amazement,” he said.
For a second consecutive year, attendance at the papal Palm Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica was tightly restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The congregation consisted of around 120 people, holding palm leaves and booklets containing the Order of Mass. Approximately 30 cardinals were also present.
After the Passion, human beings are never alone, the pope explained.
“God is at our side in every affliction, in every fear; no evil, no sin will ever have the final word. God triumphs, but the palm of victory passes through the wood of the cross. For the palm and the cross are inseparable,” he said.
“What about us? Can we still be moved by God’s love? Have we lost the ability to be amazed by him? Maybe our faith has grown dull from habit. Maybe we remain trapped in our regrets and allow ourselves to be crippled by our disappointments. Maybe we have lost all our trust or even feel worthless."
“But behind all these ‘maybes’ lies the fact that we are not open to the gift of the Spirit who gives us the grace of amazement.”
The pope urged people facing this struggle to “start over from amazement.”
Papal liturgies throughout Holy Week will be much smaller than usual due to the ongoing pandemic.
On Holy Thursday, the pope will preside over the Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the morning of April 1. But he will not be present at the Vatican’s Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, will preside instead.
Good Friday at the Vatican will include both the papal liturgy of the Passion of the Lord at 6 p.m. and the Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis at 9 p.m. in St. Peter’s Square.
The pope will offer the Easter Vigil Mass on April 3 in St. Peter’s Basilica at 7:30 p.m. and will also celebrate the Easter Sunday Mass at 10 a.m. after which he will offer the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing. CNA