SummaryFour experienced homeschooling moms share how they weave Holy Week observances they have gathered over the years into their family’s faith formation.
Holy Week in the City
While city living can be stressful, and goodness knows expensive, it offers tremendous resources. This is especially true during Holy Week with hundreds of churches offering Masses and devotions.
On Spy Wednesday, we remember that one of the apostles, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Our Blessed Lord for thirty pieces of silver. Our family also attends Tenebrae, a dramatic and moving devotion where Matins and Lauds are sung.
One by one, candles are extinguished in the church, leaving all in total darkness. The darkness is only broken by the harsh clatter of the strepitus, reminding us of the earthquake that occurred when Christ commended His Spirit to the Father.
Our family often prays private Stations of the Cross on Good Friday at a local church. Later in the day, we participate in the Veneration of the Crucifix services. Each person approaches the crucifix to venerate the crucified Christ.
When our children were little, we attended Easter Sunday Mass, but as they all reached school age, we switched to the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday evening. It is a long Mass but rich in readings and devotions—the perfect place for our homeschooled children to perfect their understanding of all that the Resurrection implies.
No question, many of these devotions were easier to access living in the city. One blessing of the Internet is that we can now watch them from home no matter where we live.
Virginia Seuffert, Illinois
As engaging as crafts and stories are, it is so important to participate in the spiritual traditions of the week. The celebration of Palm Sunday with the waving of palm branches to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem starts the week. Attend Mass and teach your kids about the excitement the people felt welcoming their King!
This is followed by a beautiful Mass on Holy Thursday where you can teach your kids about the humility shown by our Lord when He washed the feet of His Apostles and how the Last Supper was the first Mass when Jesus instituted the Eucharist.
Participate in a Eucharistic procession after Mass followed by Adoration. This is an incredible opportunity for your family to unite their time in Adoration with Jesus’ Agony in the Garden where He bore the weight of all our sins before His arrest.
On Good Friday, remember the suffering of the Passion and the hours between noon and three when Jesus hung on the cross by praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, or reflecting on the Stations of the Cross either at home or at your church.
Those hours should be solemn and activities during that time should be reverent.
Holy Saturday, the day Jesus laid in the tomb, can be the day we prepare for celebrating the Resurrection by coloring eggs and baking. The anticipation of the Resurrection has been building, and our spiritual preparations all week will make us ready to celebrate Christ’s triumph over death!
Mary Beth Balint, Virginia
Symbols are Meaningful
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday Mass as a family. If we have not been recently, we make sure to go to confession this week
Things are then pretty quiet until Spy Wednesday. In honor of the day Our Lord was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, I hide 30 quarters all over the house. The kids have a great time finding the coins, and they put them in the poor box when we go to church on Good Friday.
On Holy Thursday we watch the wonderful film The Prince of Egypt and attend Mass in the evening to remember holy events transpiring.
On Good Friday we alternate years, attending either the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in D.C. or Stations of the Cross and/or Good Friday service at our parish.
But my kids’ favorite part is our Good Friday lunch. I prepare a special meal, and every item symbolizes something from Our Lord’s Passion.
A hard-boiled egg reminds us of the cock crowing, a sword-shaped toothpick with cheese cubes reminds us of Peter cutting off the servant’s ear. Every item has a meaning and we eat them one at a time and take turns reading aloud the relevant parts of Scripture.
Holy Saturday is solemn and quiet, dyeing eggs and patiently waiting. Easter Sunday we greet each other with “He is Risen, Alleluia!” and the day is spent at Mass, with feasting and eggs, candy, fellowship, and lots of fun.
Kristin Brown, Virginia
We Patiently Await Easter
Holy Week is one of my favorite times in the year because it offers the family ample opportunity to become immersed in the faith.
We maintain our daily schedule of classwork since the goal is to journey patiently through Holy Week.
Though Good Friday is an abbreviated day of homeschooling work, we avoid slipping into spring break mode before Easter actually happens. Staying the course with schooling helps us to stave off the temptations.
We make a point to attend all the Triduum liturgies at our parish. There’s something deeply moving about the Church during Holy Week.
The changes in the sanctuary, with covered statues and a stripped altar, lead the senses into deeper contemplation of the mystery of the Passion.
To this end, we normally don’t schedule anything other than homeschooling lessons and Masses for this week.
Attending all of the Triduum liturgies can provide a challenge for some families, especially when you have little ones, but it is well worth the sacrifice.
The glory of Easter is all the greater after having fully experienced the mystery of Holy Thursday, the sorrow of Good Friday, and the silence of Holy Saturday.
Tara Brelinsky, North Carolina