The F.S.S.P. website has some wonderful photos of St. Stephen’s in Sacramento. As you can tell, we have quite the army of altar boys – I think it is close to 90 or thereabouts. Jonathan is there on the left, underneath the palm tree but with his face partially covered.
The traditional Palm Sunday liturgy still catches me by surprise. It runs about 2 hours and 15 minutes: by the end of the liturgy the altar boys are drenched in sweat. The symbolism of the priest pounding on the church door is profound and emotional. We languish in our sins on the brink of despair, captives of the evil one, but Christ the Redeemer breaks through enemy lines by force and violence. He will not be stopped. He will free the captives, but at a terrible price. The Gospel readings are the longest of the liturgical year (if I am not mistaken) and, because we are standing, they serve as an ascetical complement to the Passion narrative. The recessional music is ominous and brooding. We follow Christ, not into the light – not yet – but now into the darkness of Mordor. Holy Week has arrived.