Palm Sunday Mass
Nick Reichert / University of St. Thomas

Celebrating Holy Week: From Palm Sunday to Easter

This past Sunday, University of St. Thomas students, staff and faculty gathered at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas to celebrate Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week, leading up to the celebration of Easter on Sunday, April 9. Catholics worldwide celebrate this day in which Jesus entered Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, ultimately to offer his own life on the cross. 

Palm Sunday Mass photos on April 2, 2023, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas. (Nick Reichert/University of St. Thomas)

As Father Chris Collins ’93, SJ, vice president for mission at St. Thomas, described it, Palm Sunday’s procession with palms is “recreating that experience that Jesus had when he is going into Jerusalem.”

There is a great contrast there, Collins said. “Everybody is celebrating Jesus, they are excited that they know him, they think he is going to liberate them … and as that liturgy unfolds and of course as Holy Week proceeds, that mob that is cheering Jesus later turns on him and calls for his crucifixion.

“And all that confusion of Holy Week, (reminds us) that God in the person of Jesus is coming to be with us, sharing in our times of joy and success and when things are going well, as well as when we have been turned on and hurt and experienced great suffering. It is God joining us in our human condition for every aspect of our lives. It’s the most holy week of the year, the most powerful of liturgies.”

That paradox of Jesus’ triumphal entrance and his defeat is profoundly expressed during the Triduum - the three liturgical days that commemorate the Last Supper, the passion and death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection on the third day.

The prophecy of Isaiah, which is read on Good Friday describes Jesus as “rejected and avoided, a man of suffering, like one from whom you turn your face, rejected and held without esteem” (Isaiah, 53:3). Isaiah, continuing that paradox, ends his prophesy with the hope and the victory of the resurrection, which all Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday.

Catholic members of the St. Thomas community are invited to join their parish for the celebration of the Triduum. Mass will be celebrated on Easter Sunday at the Chapel of St. Thomas at 11 a.m.