Liturgical Feasts

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

19 March Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

In the West, the oldest reference to the cult of Saint Joseph (Ioseph sponsus Mariae) connected with 19 March appears around the year 800 in the north of France. Thereafter, reference to Joseph, the spouse of Mary, becomes more and more frequent from the 9th to the 14th centuries. In the 12th century, the crusaders built a church in his honor at Nazareth. But it was in the 15th century that the cult of Saint Joseph spread due to the influence of Saint Bernadine of Siena, and especially of Jean Gerson (+ 1420), Chancellor of Notre Dame in Paris, who promoted the cause that a feast to Saint Joseph be officially established. There were already some celebrations in Milan in Augustinian circles, and in many places in Germany. It was in 1480, with Pope Sixtus IV’s approval that the feast began to be celebrated on 19 March. It then became obligatory with Pope Gregory XV in 1621. In 1870, Pope Pius IX declared Saint Joseph the Patron of the Universal Church, and Pope Saint John XXIII inserted his name into the Roman Canon of Holy Mass in 1962. More recently, Pope Francis approved seven new invocations in the Litany to Saint Joseph: Guardian of the Redeemer, Servant of Christ, Minister of Salvation, Support in difficulties, Patron of exiles, Patron of the afflicted, and Patron of the poor.


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Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

24 March Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

The Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, also called Palm Sunday, represents the gate through which we enter into Holy Week. This is a time in which we contemplate the last moments of the life of Jesus. We recall Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem, welcomed by a festive crowd, and then we recall his Passion. As early as 400, a procession with palms took place.
The liturgy is entirely characterized by the theme of Jesus’s Passion. This is true particularly regarding the Gospel texts which, according to the liturgical year, present the passion narrative. The first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (the Song of the Suffering Servant, Isaiah 50), becomes a prayer in Psalm 22 with the refrain “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” The terror that Jesus bore in obeying the Father “to the point of death, even death on a cross” is attested to in the Second Reading from the Letter to the Philippians. This is not so much the celebration of “grief” and “lament”, as much as a week that expresses the “heart” of the Paschal Mystery when Jesus gave His life for our salvation. Jesus became man because he loves us, and because of love He gives His life. It is through this obedience that Jesus loves the Father and loves the men and women He came to save.
On Palm Sunday, we are offered an interpretation of our life and destiny. All of our sufferings and grief find a response in Jesus. In the face of every question regarding why there is suffering, why there is death, why there are so many choices that are incomprehensible to the human mind, Jesus does not give us vague responses. With His life, he has told us that He is with us, at our sides. Until the end. We will never be alone – neither in our joys nor in our sufferings. Jesus is with us. It is a celebration that is understood through silence and prayer rather than through words, so as to enter into it with the heart.


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