(AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)
Russian Orthodox shown here are using willow branches instead, as willows are the first to bloom there. Willow branches are blessed in churches and kept at home till the next Palm Sunday.
And from my neck of the woods.
A St. Augustine tradition renews itself today when the annual Blessing of the Fleet takes place in the Matanzas Bay.
While the majority of boats in the line that will pass before the Rev. D. Terrence Morgan for a blessing are no longer shrimp boats, some are used for other commercial fishing and some are pleasure boats.
The blessing of the fleet at St. Augustine reminds me of a story a frequent sailboater and fellow parishoner told me.
This sailboater, Walt, normally sails Lake Michigan during summers here, he has had our Church men’s group out on his boat for retreats and gatherings before.
Walt goes down to South Florida for 2-3 months every winter, and while relaxing and visting a daughter of his who lives south of Miami, Walt takes a week long excursion every year with a friend of his down in Florida, who also owns a boat. They sail out each morning and return each evening, in and out of different ports on the Florida coast, relaxing and having fun.
Apparently, they docked somewhere in Florida and spent a Saturday night anchored on the boat, ready to find a local Church for Sunday mass the next morning. Well, around 8:30AM Sunday morning, Walt and his buddy awaken to the sounds of Roman Catholic mass prayers, and then an Old Testament reading. Thinking they were dreaming or something, they went out onto the deck, and saw about 20-30 additional boats docked in the bay where they anchored for the night, and on shore was a priest who, with the help of a loud speaker, was saying mass for boats that came up and docked or anchored for the morning.
I guess this was a weekly Sunday event for the boaters in the harbor…Walt said, “I don’t know if they had Eucharistic ministers in motor boats to distribute the sacred host, but if you were anchored or docked on shore, you could receive the Eucharist, just like a mass in a Church.”
Something different in a harbor somewhere down your direction of the country anyhow.
I attended a blessing of the fleet ceremony on Galveston Bay many years ago.
In Madrid the gypsies bring in ahead of Mass a pile of olive branches, some sort of fir clippings, and palm fronds etc … all of which is for sell, and to be later blessed during Mass. Just thought I�d mention that 🙂