Proclaiming the Passion on Palm Sunday

Photo by AL (Click on image for larger version)

I don't very often publish material specific to my parish but a pastor's pride sometimes gets the best of me and this is one of those times. The faces above include two of our regular lectors and a readers' chorus of high school students who proclaimed the Gospel of the Passion at our 9:30 and 11:30 Palm Sunday liturgies. We used the arrangement of the Passion found in many missalettes, dividing the narrator's part between two of our lectors, having the young readers take the parts of individual voices and groups in the narrative, and I took the part of Christ.

Two nights of rehearsal and back-to-back liturgies are more than is asked of most of us for Palm Sunday but this group (and our Youth Ministry Coordinator who took but isn't in the photo above) gave generously of their time and effort to proclaim that story of saving love that is ours in Christ's suffering and death.

At our 7:30 Mass on Palm Sunday morning a visiting priest presided. Two lectors took the narrator and "voice" parts, the assembly took the group parts and one of our deacons took the part of Christ.2009LentPostCollection

At our 5:00 Mass on Saturday, I proclaimed the Passion myself without dividing the text into parts.



  1. I was at Holy Family for the 9:30 mass. I loved the how the HS students were part of the Passion. It was a wonderful experience. I hope that this will be remembered by them when they are older.

    I went to Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany in 1984 for the 350 anniversary. I had just graduated HS. I was never as moved as I was when I saw that play even though I did not really understand much of it. It will stay with me forever.

    This too could happen in maybe a smaller scale for these HS students.

    Thanks you.


  2. To hear the Passion of our Lord proclaimed in such a brilliant way with the pastor, choir, youth group leaders, and young people themselves was a powerful experience. I hope our youth realize the positive impact they had among the congregation. I know I wasn't the only one moved to tears by their participation.

  3. At our parishes 4:OOpm vigil mass we had the voice, sort of set off to one side of the altar, we had Jesus on the altar at a temporary lectern and the narrator at the ambo. (You'd have to know our oddly shaped altar and sanctuary for this to make sense.)

    I don't know how much rehearsing they did but it was so well timed and so well proclaimed by some of the best lectors we have.

    It was really amazing.

    Yours sounds and looks great however!

  4. I love the idea of high school students proclaiming....epecially when they go over it so well ahead of time!
    In our parish this weekend we attended 2 masses - 9 am with RCIA dismissal and then 5 pm mass.
    At the 5 pm Sunday mass - a new one in our town and started because of parish closings and mergers. The church that always celebrated 5 pm Sunday mass was closed so it is now celebrated in our parish with 7 parish priests rotating duties. We don't yet have regular lectors or Eucharistic ministers since the attendees are usually from all over the place, but it is being worked on. We volunteered to help that evening and I ended up being a lector and also read the part of the "Voice" in the Passion reading.
    It was an unexpected honor!

  5. At the Episcopal Cathedral in Boston, the passion was read at the end of the service by a group of lay people who volunteered for the occasion. I was to read Pilate, but I came down with a cold so handed it over to someone else. My transgender sibling-in-law narrated, women read the parts of Jesus and Peter, and various men filled the other roles. This diversity was mostly, but not entirely, serendipitous.

    The version we use is a dramatic rendering, but I'm afraid I don't have the name of the adaptor at hand. I'll see if I can find it. I like it a lot. It cleans up a lot of the anti-Jewish language, among other things.

    There's quite a substantial porch with steps on the front of the Cathedral, looking out sort of towards Park Street Station, and we divide the reading so the first part is indoors, and at the trial we all move out to the porch, where Pilate sits on a bishop's throne we've moved outdoors and wears the gold and red cape the presider wore for the procession which started the service.

    This means that Jesus' trial is read where passers by can have their attention caught. At the end, there is a brief prayer read by the presider, and then we disperse in silence into the city. No coffee hour or adult ed. It's very moving.

    We start the service out there, of course, blessing the palms and then parading up to the State House singing "Marching to Zion" with drums banging and kazoos blowing (my contribution, now into its third year). It's quite a mood change from the riotous festive atmosphere at the beginning to the solemn silent dismissal at the end.

  6. The Episcopal service described above seems almost blasphemous to me. The scripture is "cleaned up" or rewritten, to avoid offending anyone. Women read the parts of Jesus and Peter. Kazoos provide the entertainment. Father Fleming, I think you should make your readers aware of the basic requirements of the Catholic Mass (the gospel is proclaimed by an ordained male, for example) lest your readers become confused about what is an appropriate Palm Sunday service.

  7. I doubt that I need to point out that the proclamation the Passion Piskie describes is not that of the liturgical books of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Anyone who read this post even casually would see that I described the several options for proclaiming the Passion in the Roman Catholic liturgy - all of which were used at Holy Family this past weekend. (Although, we did not at any of the 4 liturgies use the short form of the Passion.)

    Palm Sunday and its proclamation of the Passion offers an example when the the proclamation of the gospel may be shared beyond the ministry of ordained males. The same may happen on Good Friday.

    While the style at Piskie's cathedral is not be consonant with the practice of the Roman Catholic Church, I trust that their intentions were certainly not blasphemous.


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