Noticias de la Diócesis de Allentown

Understanding Our Faith: Palm Sunday and the Chrism Mass

Holy Week is the perfect opportunity to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage, an interior conversion of our hearts from the ordinary to the eternal, from despair to hope, from self-interest to care for our brother and sister, and from darkness to the light of Christ.

This is part one of a two-part series on Holy Week, designed to help the faithful understand the spiritual significance and rituals of this important time in the Catholic liturgical calendar.

Palm Sunday, March 28, marks the beginning of the Holy Week spiritual pilgrimage. It is Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This liturgical feast is named for the palm branches the crowds spread on the ground, as a sign of His kingship, as Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem.

The Palm Sunday Mass also is known for the recitation of the Passion Gospel, a retelling of the account of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection.

This year, palm branches may be distributed to the faithful as they enter Mass, by greeters who have first sanitized their hands.

The Chrism Mass is celebrated by Bishop Schlert on the Wednesday of Holy Week. At this Mass, Bishop Schlert blesses the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick, and consecrates the Sacred Chrism for use in parishes during the upcoming year.

The Chrism Mass will be celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 31. Normally packed with worshipers, it is not open to the public this year. It will be livestreamed on AD Today.

The use of oil traces its roots to the Bible. Olive oil was prevalent in Jerusalem and had many practical uses: food, heating, light, and healing wounds. Four sacraments use blessed Oils: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick.

During Holy Week Masses, as at all other times, the Diocese’s strict safety and health guidelines remain in effect:

The number of people at Mass is restricted to 50 percent of the seating capacity, masks will be worn by the faithful, and by clergy when distributing Holy Communion, social distancing will be observed, and all indoor areas will be sanitized after use.

For this year’s Holy Week, mindful of the importance of sacred music, a small choir, socially distanced, is permitted in the choir loft.

Holy Week Masses will be livestreamed at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday March 31 (Chrism Mass), 7 p.m. on Holy Thursday, at 3 p.m. on Good Friday, at 8 p.m. on Saturday for the Easter Vigil, and at 10 a.m. on Easter Sunday. Livestreams will be carried on AD Today at, on the Diocese Facebook Page at, on the diocesan YouTube Channel at, and on Service Electric Cable TV, channels 50 and 550.