CATHOLIC HERALD STAFF
There’s no way around it: this Holy Week is going to be difficult. We are going to feel isolated. We are going to feel disconnected. We may feel angry or even abandoned.
Here’s the good news: that’s pretty much how the first Holy Week felt, too.
Unable as we are to gather in our sanctuaries to mark these days in the most perfect way we can — by assisting at the unbloody re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary — we are being given the great honor of knowing intimately the despair of the disciples in the intervening hours between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We may feel like God is lost to us. Our eyes, as the Psalm says, “have failed searching for (our) God.”
But search we will, and be assured, Easter morning will come. The tomb will still be empty. The debt will still be paid. No matter what is going on in the world, let’s not lose this opportunity to allow Holy Week to prepare our hearts for the Resurrection.
As St. John Paul II put it: “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.”
Here are some tips and resources for keeping the spirit of Holy Week at home.
Have a procession for Palm Sunday
Have any greenery around? What about green craft paper? Maybe you have last year’s palms still tucked behind your Crucifix. Grab what you have on hand and stage a procession around your yard, your house, your living room — whatever works for your family. Sing a Palm Sunday hymn like “All Glory, Laud and Honor.”
Cook and eat meals as a family
On Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, make a point of preparing meals as a family. One custom growing in popularity for Catholic families is to have a simple, Seder-inspired meal on Holy Thursday. For Good Friday, a day of fasting and abstinence, begin the day by making fasting bread together. On Holy Saturday, make empty tomb rolls (a delicious, fun way to interact with the story of the Resurrection) in the afternoon to enjoy when you have finished watching the Easter Vigil.
Watch the Passion of the Christ and say the rosary
You can stream Mel Gibson’s 2004 blockbuster and pause in the appropriate places to say the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. Of course, this will only apply to families with children old enough to handle the intensity of the crucifixion; for those who aren’t up for the graphic violence or who have young children, there are a host of great Catholic movies and videos on Formed.org, which is offering free 40-day memberships during the COVID-19 crisis.
Observe a three-hour silence on Good Friday
A traditional practice in Catholic households is to mark the hours of Christ’s agony on the Cross by refraining from all conversation during the hours of noon and 3 p.m. Some families also draw the curtains to create a more somber atmosphere.
Stream the Easter Vigil with the lights off
For so many of us, the most dramatic and intense moments of Easter occur outside of church on Holy Saturday during the Service of Light, when the blazing fire ignites the Paschal Candle, which in turn shares its flame with the candles of the gathered faithful. If you will be viewing the Easter Vigil live-streamed from the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, consider doing so in a darkened room with unlit candles. As the archbishop lights the Paschal Candle, have one family member light his candle and share the flame with the others.
Other helpful, free resources:
- Litpress.org (click on tab titled “Free pastoral resources for praying together even when we are apart”)
- Looktohimandberadiant.com (includes an customizable schedule for activities, Scripture readings and more throughout the entire Holy Week)