Archbishop Chaput celebrates first Palm Sunday

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Archbishop Charles Chaput celebrated his first Palm Sunday in Philadelphia.

This week begins the most important week of the Christian faith. Tradition says Palms were strewn along the way of Jesus during his triumphant return to Jerusalem on a donkey.

According to the faithful, during Holy Week Christ celebrated Passover with his disciples and he was betrayed by one of them - Judas. He also suffered a painful death on the cross, was entombed, then resurrected.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput took part in the solemn procession that began first outside and then inside the Basilica this Palm Sunday.

A mile away at the Philadelphia Prayer Clinic Church, Pastor Desmond Byrd led his flock.

On the surface, they are different styles of worship, but for both congregations, and for many other Christians, today is the start of Holy Week or Passion Week.

A broad spectrum of denominations may worship differently, but their focus is the same.

The Basilica's Priest in Residence Rev. G. Dennis Gill explains.

"The fundamental reality of Christian faith is that Christ has died and that Christ has risen&for all Christians, it is the occasion of the forgiveness of our sins. The promise of everlasting life because Christ actually dies for us and is raised up ," he said.

For Christian believers, it marks the pivotal days of Jesus' betrayal, suffering on the Cross and the crucial belief in his physical resurrection.

"That is what we celebrate, because without him dying and rising again, there would be no us," said Minister Kendra Bowden of Philadelphia Prayer Clinic Church.

That is the critical issue, death and resurrection, the belief Christ's tomb was empty on Easter.

"If that body was there, Christianity would be false, and because that body was not there he was the resurrected Christ that's the key point of Christianity," explained Minister Jerel Mitchell.

"It means I have eternal life," said Gwen Pomper. "And I will join him one day."

For all Christians who follow the western calendar, Sunday starts the most important week of the year. Still to come, Holy or Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and of course a week from today, Easter.

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