In light of ongoing financial and health crises in Lebanon, a Lebanese priest living in Los Angeles lit up candles on Palm Sunday in the name of the Lebanese children residing in Lebanon.
Priest Abdo Sfeir of the St. Peter and Paul Parish church yielded a large number of candles on the church’s altar. He chose to place each candle in the name of one of the children of the Maronite parish.
The initiative aimed to express solidarity with the children and confirm their presence by heart in the church on Palm Sunday. It is reported that Father Sfeir exerts great efforts in serving the parishioners in L.A. and is known to be respected and loved.
Palm Sunday falls on the Sunday before Easter (the Resurrection), in remembrance of the feast that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
As part of traditions, Lebanese Maronites, Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants carry baskets filled with olive leaves during ceremonies. According to the Holy Bible, the olive trees represent the large palm trees that people greeted Jesus with as he entered Jerusalem on a donkey.
As for the Lebanese children, they would carry candles during Palm Sundays during the procession.
Priest Sfeir has chosen to light up candles in his church in LA on behalf of the children who are unable this year to roam the streets with candles as a celebration of Jesus.
Palm Sunday is especially festive for the Christian children who wait for it all year long. This year, they did not get to celebrate, carry candles, and march in procession.
Churches in Lebanon were empty of people and celebrations but they all lit up with countless candles:
Because of the emerging pandemic, and the Lebanese general mobilizations, all churches and mosques have been shut down to disperse social gatherings and to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Despite the necessary reasons behind the lockdown, the timing has been deemed unfortunate amid the Easter holidays and the arrival of Ramadan at the end of April.
Nonetheless, religious holidays while quarantining can also be great opportunities for spiritual depths and prayers. In times of desperation, it can be life-changing to remember to hold on to the grace of God and to remain faithful during unpleasant times.
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