Palm Sunday

I read a fascinating book by Nicholas Orme entitled Going to Church in Medieval England (Yale Univ. Press, 2021). Apparently priests in the medieval church were only allowed to say mass once per day. It had to be in the morning, prior to noon, and it needed to be preceded by the ringing of a bell.

This makes some sense. There were no clocks. Country folk would travel in from the countryside for church. They needed to have some sort of an idea when the service started and so they would hang about in town on Sunday morning. Then they would hear the bell and head into church.

On Easter, a priest was allowed to say more than one mass, presumably because the crowds might exceed the capacity at church. But his whole holy week was consumed listening to confessions, for Lent was the time when everyone was obligated to make a confession. Some things do not change. It would seem that a lot of folks procrastinated and the week prior to Easter was often non-stop confessional for the diligent priest. I wonder if they gave an incentive for making one’s confession earlier in the season? Lighter penance?

This has been a busy week for the shepherd’s of God’s people for a very long time. Enjoy it, take an extra day off the following week if you can. You are engaged in the pivot point of creation as God saves us all. God bless you.

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