By Christina Hermoso
Roman Catholic Churches in different parts of the country have begun collecting old palm fronds (palaspas) from last year’s Palm Sunday celebration in preparation for next week’s solemn observance of Ash Wednesday on March 6, which marks the start of the 40-day Lenten season.
Several churches started accepting palm fronds since mid-February and have actually collected dozens of the blessed palm leaves, a parish official said. The faithful have until March 5 to bring their old “palaspas” to their local parish office. Some Catholic schools have also started to collect palm fronds from students and parents.
More popularly known as “palaspas,” the palm fronds are traditionally displayed in 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 afternoon.
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.”