Roman Catholic Churches in different parts of the country have started collecting old blessed palm fronds (palaspas) from last year’s Palm Sunday celebration in preparation for the solemn observance of Ash Wednesday on Feb. 22.
Ash Wednesday, the solemn commemoration observed by the faithful who have their foreheads marked with a cross from the burnt palm fronds, signals the start of the 40-day Lenten season.
The observance of the Holy Week begins on April 2, Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.
Several churches started accepting palm fronds at the start of the month of February and have collected dozens of the blessed palm leaves, a parish official said.
More popularly known as “palaspas,” the palm fronds are traditionally displayed on altars at home or placed on doors and window sills by the faithful in the belief that “the right hand of God will bless and protect those who dwell in the house from all adversities.”
The burning of palms is traditionally done in churches Tuesday afternoons. Four ancient prayers are recited during the burning of the ashes, which are sprinkled with Holy Water and fumigated with incense. The blessed ashes mixed with a little oil are used to mark the sign of the cross on the foreheads of churchgoers on Ash Wednesday with the reminder that “Thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return” and to “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”