PALM SUNDAY 2015-CARTHCART PASTORAL DISTRICT
This year Palm Sunday was on the 29th of March. Now in Cathcart on a regular Sunday we would have two celebrations of the Mass; one in English at 08h00 and another one in Xhosa at 09h30 and afterwards the priest goes to Balfour or to Keilands. On Palm Sunday we have started to bring the two communities in Cathcart itself together on Palm Sunday. Mass begins at 08h00 for both communities in Katikati (the township). There is a practical pastoral reason for this; on that day the Mass is longer and since the priest still has to travel for 80km to another community, it is sensible to have one celebration here which combines the two communities. This pastoral solution comes with certain difficulties, needless to say. For example, there are those who would rather carry palm branches and those who would rather carry small leaves made into the shape of the cross. There are those who would rather not have a procession with branches or just move from the gate to the inside of the church and there are those who would rather walk for a fair amount of time in procession. There are those who would rather sing very briefly and those who would rather have quite a bit of singing. There are those who would rather have the shorter version of the Passion narrative proclaimed and there are those who would rather have the longer version. All of these dynamics become part of the preparation for Palm Sunday, they are at play during the celebration and they are part of the Palm Sunday hangover. Be that as it may, we try to opt for the most meaningful way of celebrating the Liturgy both for those who immediately appreciate it as well as for those who might appreciate it in twenty one years’ time.
The weather this Palm Sunday was rather nippy when we started in the morning but it became quite pleasant eventually. The point where we started was the entrance junction to the township- Katikati. As we face the township, behind us is the Cathcart golf course, to the left is the road to the farms and lands of variable hectares and a small number of people owning them and working there. To the right is the informal settlement area. When looking ahead, one sees a typical township which we walk into; passing a community development centre to the left and a New Apostolic Christian community building to the right. We walk past a few houses and a high school to the right into our own Catholic Church building.
It is always strange to begin with the Collect (Opening prayer) on this day for most and it creates a bit of reluctance in the flow of the Liturgy but eventually we all get the hang of it. The singing was well prepared and the readers of all the readings as well as those of the narrative the Lord’s Passion were well prepared. It was an inspiring celebration.
The joy of celebrating this day is yet to be fully expressed in our community. Understandably, there is that Roman Catholic anxiety of liturgical correctness that preoccupies many who take part in the celebration (including the priest) which can be dealt with by thorough preparation and perhaps having a commentator or a Master of Ceremonies in the liturgy. It was, however, very profound to see almost the whole congregation taking up their palm branches at the Sanctus (Holy, Holy) and waving them singing Hosanna! Suddenly I felt that the coming of the Lord into Jerusalem and his coming to the altar in our own Jerusalem was becoming real in the minds of many and the joy was perceivable. That spirit eventually dominated the celebration and was in the atmosphere until it was time to go home and I hope it was an abiding feeling for the rest of that Sunday and indeed that it is for the rest of our lives for us all.
By Fr. Thembela