How to Celebrate Holy Week in Your Domestic Church
In the weeks leading up to Holy Week and Easter, the Catholic Church encourages us to persevere in our Lenten penances so that we can 'come safely to the paschal festivities'. But what if paschal festivities look different this year than ever before? For all of us, Holy Week and Easter will come and go in the liturgical calendar with no public Masses, gatherings, or traditional celebrations. Many of us are in lockdown or quarantine situations, combatting the reality of Coronavirus. But that doesnt mean we cant participate in the beauty of Holy Week and Easter, though! If youre looking for practical and easy ways to enter into Holy Week and the joy of Easter from the domestic church of your own home, here are a few ideas!
into the daily Liturgy of the Word
Whether you gather to pray with a live-stream Mass or enter into a prayer service at home, continue to make Sunday a day of worship. Beginning with Palm Sunday, you can enter into liturgical living by covering up the crosses, crucifixes, statues and sacred art throughout your home. This practice heightens our senses, alerting us of the coming beauty of Holy Week and the joyful celebration of Easter. Crosses and crucifixes are uncovered on Good Friday, while all other sacred art and statues remain covered until the Easter Vigil.
for catechumens and candidates
Easter Vigil is normally a time where catechumens and candidates come home to the Catholic Church. But with many dioceses throughout the world canceling public Easter Masses, those preparing to enter into the Church are surrounded by the unknown. You can remember them specifically in your prayers in the weeks leading up to Holy Week. If you know the names of catechumens and candidates from your parish, remember to pray for them by name!
Shout Hosanna! It may feel a little silly to shout Hosanna, especially given the current state of the world. But dont worry about what the person who shares an apartment wall will think. Enter into the liturgy unabashed. If you still have your palm from last year, put in in a place youll see it throughout the day. Newly blessed palms will be available in the porch of the presbytery.
The readings for Holy Thursday remind us of the beauty of the Eucharist and the priesthood. Even if you cant receive the Eucharist, you can make a spiritual act of communion. Make time to thank God for the gift of the Eucharist and look forward with hope to the next time you can receive him sacramentally. Wash each others feet. When Christ washed the feet of the twelve, it served as a reminder to them - and us - to serve others in our daily life. Do you live alone? Saint Basil wrote 'Whose feet do you wash? Whom do you care for? To whom do you make yourself inferior and last of all since you live alone?' If youre at home by yourself during Holy Thursday, serve others around you in some way. Call your neighbours to see if theyre doing okay. Check in with family who also live alone.
Read the readings of the day, including the passion narrative, and pray for those traditionally remembered in the solemn intercessions, like those who do not believe in Christ and those who are in moments of tribulation. Because of the pandemic, the Church will add an extra petition for those who are sick and for medical staff. Venerate the Cross. If you covered up the crucifixes and crosses in your home in preparation for Holy Week, uncover them and show reverence to the cross, whether by genuflecting or kissing the cross. Let this Good Friday be a day of silence and remembrance of Christs sacrifice on the cross. Pray the Stations of the Cross - a beautiful prayer to remember each step of Christs walk to Calvary. You can pray these with your family at 3.00pm , honoured in a special way as the time when Christ breathed his last.
The readings for the Easter Vigil contain seven readings, an epistle and the Gospel. If youre in lockdown mode, what better way to spend your time on Easter Vigil than by tracing salvation history throughout Scripture. Light a candle in your home.
The readings for Easter Sunday are full of hope and rejoicing both things we all need more of right now. Whether you tune into a live-streaming Mass or you sit quietly in prayer, make time today for worship. Sing Alleluia! We havent been able to say this word for forty days, so shout it from the rooftops and wish your neighbours a joyful Easter!