Palm Sunday in Vienna

/ 1 April 2007

Today is Alex’s birthday — 15! — and it’s Palm Sunday. We’ve been worshipping with the Viennese English-speaking Catholic Community, which meets in the Votivkirche. It’s the most diverse community I’ve ever worshiped with — people from all over the world, united only by the English language (which for many people is their second or third or fourth language).

The blessing of the palms just prior to the procession is actually the blessing of the pussy willow branches, and there was something almost whimsical about the 200 or 300 of us from all around the world carrying our small pussy willow branches into the dark, grey, cold, cavernous sanctuary of the Votivkirche. Just as the liturgy was concluding, the sun began to shine, pouring through the huge stained glass windows in rainbows of color. The liturgy for this day always ends in silence, or some kind of mournful chant (in this case, a Taize chant), but with the myriad faces glowing in the stained light, it had a different kind of feel to it, resurrection already apparent even in the darkness of a tomb.