By Stony Paths: Palm Sunday

Photo of a dear friend's place for praying with 'By Stony Paths'. Many thanks for sharing Helen.

Palm Sunday Script

Welcome to ‘By Stony Paths, following the way of the Cross. Using scripture, symbols and time for reflection as we journey with Jesus through Holy Week.

Today is ‘Palm Sunday’ and our gospel reading is Luke 19, 29-40 where Jesus enters Jerusalem to the acclaim of the crowds. 

The symbols you are invited to use with today’s meditation are the stone and a palm cross or a leaf. The best size stone is one that can be held in one hand. If you have a palm cross from a past palm Sunday use that, otherwise find a leaf, preferably a long one.
If you don’t already have them with you, I suggest you pause this and find them for yourself before continuing.  

Centring & Seeking God’s help
I invite you now to settle down, sit comfortably in a space where you can relax and be attentive to this time of prayerful meditation. 
Let yourself stop, perhaps close your eyes and become still and more relaxed. 
Take time to be aware of God’s welcoming you to be present as you come to be with Christ through Holy Week.
As you settle, become aware of your hopes from this time. What are you seeking? What might you want to offer to God?
Tell God, simply openly, and ask for God’s grace to help you in this time.

Gospel Reading

Reflection
The gospel shows three different responses to Jesus:
The disciples who are instructed by Jesus and who carry out his instructions to the t and find they work.
Then there are the disciples and people who spontaneously and joyfully give praise – offering their hosannas, throwing their cloaks, and in other accounts, palm branches on the road before Jesus as they proclaim Jesus as king, coming in the name of the Lord.
But then there are also the critics, who think Jesus should shut the people up. To whom, Jesus retorts ‘If the people were silent, these stones would shout.’

So we have hosanna’s and hardness, faith and negativity. 

Let yourself become aware of your palm cross or leaf – symbols of the hosannas of the people. What things in your own life and experience cause you to be joyful with or for Jesus – let your sense of hosanna come as you feel the leaf or palm cross in your hand.

Now let your attention move to the stone in your other hand. Feel its hardness, its shape its texture and edges. With this, recognise any negativity or hardness in your own life at this time. Without judging this, just acknowledge it. 

Jesus accepted this journey that had hosannas and hardness.

Take time to talk to him about the hallelujahs and hardness you have noticed. Speak as with a close friend, and notice any sense of his response to you. 

As this time draws to an end, is their anything you want to ask Jesus to help you with or any gratitude you wish to express to him.

O Lord hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto thee. 

Lord’s Prayer
Our Father…

Tomorrow
Tomorrow is Monday in Holy Week and our gospel reading will be John 12.1-11 where Jesus has a meal in Bethany with Mary, Martha and Lazarus and Mary anoints his feet with perfume.

The symbols you are invited to use with today’s meditation are the stone and an incense stick or perfumed handkerchief or cloth. 

The psalm that can be read before listening to the podcast is Psalm 25 

May God bless your Holy Week journey.

My approach to 'By Stony Paths'

I’ve long found that Holy Week is a very important time for me, my relationship with Jesus and my spiritual growth. Working at offering shape to Holy Week for others provides me with a focus that both draws upon past faith experience and my current needs and engagement with the passion narrative and being with Christ in it. 

There is much that can be difficult and challenging about Holy Week. It challenges the tendency to avoid the hard stuff of life, whether it is facing my own failings or being present to the pain of another. Symbols, physically held have been really helpful to me, there’s something about the physicality of holding a stone or a leaf, of smelling a scent or putting my fingers in water that counters the psychological disengagement. 

So I offer using these physical objects to help us engage more deeply with the journey to the cross and beyond. 

The shaping of the prayer is significantly Ignatian – drawing upon the wisdom of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in terms of shaping the prayer, the way in, the way of engaging and the way out. Plenty more on this in my book Ignatius of Loyola. 

Deep in the Ignatian approach is a trust in the utter graciousness of God, and in the possibility of encounter with God in prayer that affects and sustains us. In this, Ignatius encourages, ‘allow the creator to deal with the creature, and the creature with their creator and Lord’. So it is that I offer these times. That what I offer falls into the background as you encounter your creator and Lord. 

All encounters change us. I trust, that the encounters that the time spent with By Stony Paths will be God graced that God may continue to do what God is doing your life.

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