SummaryLive Holy Week as Jesus did in the gospels. Jennifer Elia presents simple ways for your family to celebrate the eight days from Palm Sunday to Easter.
Holy Week is a busy time in the Church; it is also the best time to live the faith and experience the catechism first hand.
The eight days of Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter are packed with opportunities to follow Jesus on His journey to Jerusalem, Passion, and miraculous resurrection.
This is my favorite week of the year. It can also be exhausting with so many trips to church to participate in the liturgy. However, I have found the experience of walking WITH Jesus through Holy Week is exhilarating and makes the miracle of Easter that much sweeter.
Each day, walk through the gospels and grow in your relationship with Our LORD, the Christ.
Welcome Jesus to Jerusalem and, with the crowds, celebrate our amazing Savior. Take an active role in reading the Passion. Try to imagine what it was like amid the crowds of bystanders waving palms and shouting “Hosanna.”
When you get home from Mass, place your palms in a special vase for decoration for Holy Week and have a special meal as a family. This is a joyous day because the prophecies have been fulfilled, the new king of Israel has come to Jerusalem.
The day after Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to the sound of crowds cheering Him, He went up to the temple. However, He did not go to teach and pray. He came to overturn the money changers tables and sweep clean those who offended God.
On Monday, clear out your temple. Our diocese has Reconciliation Monday this day, and every church is open from 4pm to 8pm for confession. This is a great blessing for sure.
Not everyone will have that opportunity, but if you can, go to confession. Even if you can’t get to confession, there is cleaning that can be done. Get your home ready for the great season of Easter.
Purge the clutter. Do away with useless distractions. Come into Easter cleaner, lighter, and more open so you can be filled with the grace of His Resurrection.
Before Jesus cleaned the Temple, he cursed the fig tree. On Tuesday, while heading back into the city, Peter saw how the tree had died and marvelled at the authority and power of Christ. Through mere words, He could give and take life.
Jesus replies, “Have faith in God. Amen I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Arise, and hurl thyself into the sea.’ and does not waiver in his heart, but believes that whatever he says will be done, it shall be done for him.”
Today, read Mark 11:12-14, 20-26 with your children. Eat dried figs as a snack, too.
What are the mountains in your life? Set aside a time for intense prayer for what seems impossible. Nothing is impossible with God! If you have the opportunity, attend the Chrism Mass with your family and thank God for our priests and the sacraments.
Halfway through Holy Week! This is called a day of silence because there is nothing in scripture about what Jesus did this day. We know He went to Bethany to spend time with Mary and Martha. The night before, Mary anointed Him with perfumed oil.
This is a perfect day to read all the parables that Jesus preached on His last visit to the Temple. (You can find them in Mark 12). Then, take some time to write out Easter cards for family and friends. Alternatively, send out those emails to loved ones that you keep meaning to write.
Invite over a friend or relative for tea and a chat. Take the time to remember those important to you in prayerful love.
My beautiful friend, Jessica, who writes at Shower of Roses, introduced me to liturgical teas. So, for several years, on Holy Thursday my children and I read through Mark 14. Then, we eat special foods that connect with the story. Below is a list of what we usually have on the table for our tea:
- Palms on the road– In years past, I have made heart of Palm salad, and eaten the whole thing myself. To economize and simplify, I now just put the palms from Palm Sunday in a pretty vase as a centerpiece.
- Costly Oil–I fill a shallow bowl with olive oil and flavor it with Italian seasoning, garlic, and a little onion powder. As a child, we put this on bread, never butter, but of course, that was only if there was no tomato sauce left to sop up.
- Unleavened bread blessed and broken– We use broken pieces of Matzo crackers, but have also used pitas cut into wedges.
- The Blessing Cup–I make a special wine spritzer that is mostly grape juice and water with a little bit of red wine. The wine and water represent the blood and water that flowed from Christ’s side.
- Mount of Olives–A pile of olives. Any kind will do.
- Garden of Gethsemane– Dried figs.
- Sleepy Apostles–Sleepytime© tea.
- Thirty Pieces of Silver– A bowl with thirty dimes that will then be donated to Mary’s Meals. We have also used rice crackers, slices of carrots, and slices of string cheese.
- Judas’ kiss–Strawberries.
- The Cock Crowed Twice–We have used rotisserie chicken, chicken salad, and mini chicken pot pies.
- Peter’s Tears–Salted sunflower seeds.
- Cloud of Heaven–Garlic mashed potatoes, and yes, I use instant potatoes. I simply sautee some garlic in oil and mix it in. The key is simplicity.
Holy Thursday Mass is a beautiful celebration of the creation of not only the Mass but the priesthood. If you are able, attend Mass. Even better, volunteer to have your feet washed. Then, stay after Mass to pray in silence, just as Jesus prayed in the garden.
This is the day that Jesus suffered and died. The earth quaked, and the veil of the Temple was torn into two. Take the time to walk the Stations of the Cross at your parish or an outdoor station garden. Physically walking from station to station changes the experience and takes you on the journey that redeemed the world.
This is a day of fasting and prayer. Keep meals simple and try to avoid unnecessary activity. Spend time before the empty tabernacle. The emptiness and the extinguished flame are striking. Stop and contemplate what would have happened if that were the end.
What would life be like without Our Risen LORD? It is easy to take the Eucharist for granted; today is the day to remember that it is a great gift.
This is a day of waiting, expectancy, and ordinary life continuing. Just as the apostles kept the Sabbath as they did every Saturday, we continue with our lives. There are preparations to be done, but today is not Easter. Keep Easter decorations away until AFTER vigil Mass.
You could also make Resurrection Rolls or Easter Story Cookies, but don’t eat them until Easter! Resurrection Rolls are a favorite Easter brunch treat in my house.
Alleluia! He is Risen! Sing and rejoice. Belt out the Alleluia at Mass or sing it together as a family if you assisted at Vigil Mass. Remember to thank God for our Risen Savior. Amid the egg hunts and jelly beans, remember to tell everyone the Good News. He is risen! He is risen, indeed!
Oh, and don’t forget, Easter lasts for 50 days! While the rest of the world is packing away all the pink bunnies, we are just getting started celebrating.
Do you have any Holy Week traditions to share?