How should a person dispose of old palms?
Palms are sacramentals and it is usually recommended that blessed sacramentals be burned rather than simply thrown away. Sometimes, a parish will invite parishoners to donate their old palms. The palms are burned and the ashes are used on Ash Wednesday the following year.
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What is a sacramental?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sacramentals are “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church.”
Other sacramentals include relics, holy oils, the rosary.
Ritual (set words and gestures) enables us to pray together. We call this “liturgy” - praying the ritual of the whole Church, on behalf of the whole Church, with a sense of doing it together with the whole Church. The Mass is the most obvious example of liturgical prayer. The celebration of the other sacraments and of the Liturgy of the Hours are also examples of liturgical prayer.
There is something special about being together with a group experiencing the same event. A Thanksgiving dinner is one example. Another is a sports event. Sometimes when a team is playing a championship game in another city, people come to the home stadium or arena to watch it together on television. There is something different about experiencing it together.
In liturgical prayer we have a sense of being together with others who are celebrating the same event - those around us, the Church around the world, and the Church in heaven. Most of all, we sense the presence of the Risen Lord who is always the leader of the Church at prayer.
Liturgical prayer is not hard to do, not complicated. We simply open ourselves up to the words, rituals, symbols, the presence of those around us, and the realization that we are doing this in the name of the entire Church… and that we take in the “whole thing.”
Holy Week is the perfect time to think about liturgical prayer. No other week in the year has liturgies so rich and full as the Sacred Triduum.