A Peek Into Our Holy Week

As you begin to make plans for Holy Week with kids in your domestic church, I thought I’d share what has worked for us as a family over the years. Some of what follows is flexible and subject to change each year based on our schedules, kids’ ages and temperaments, and parental level of exhaustion, but this is the general outline of what Holy Week looks like for us as a Catholic family.  Thoughts in red are new things we plan to implement with the kids this liturgical year!

Holy Week

Palm Sunday/Monday/Tuesday – Clean the house, top to bottom, to prepare our home for the Triduum and Easter. On Sunday, we will read this new book from Michele Chronister that I purchased last week. The explanations of the Liturgies of Holy Week are written for probably 5-7 years olds, but the lovely illustrations will delight kids of any age, and the simple summaries of each Liturgy are a great jumping off point for deeper discussions with older kids.

Spy Wednesday – Hide 30 pieces of “silver” (quarters) around the house to remember that the day before Holy Thursday, Judas betrayed Our Lord for 30 pieces of silver. Once the kids find them all, they can put them in the box for the poor at Church tomorrow evening. I shamelessly stole this idea from Catholic All Year. SHAMELESSLY. Continue reading

When Jesus Hides Himself

Veiled Hearts

Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent, and so marks the beginning of Passiontide. Traditionally,  this timeframe of the last two weeks of Lent was primarily focused on the faithful’s immersion into Christ’s Passion. Gradually, this two-week observance has been largely condensed into a liturgically rich Holy Week. Prior to Vatican II and the reorganization of the Missal, the reading for the 5th Sunday of Lent (today) from John 8 ended with the words “Jesus hid himself and went out of the Temple.” As a symbol of Christ’s hiding, the crucifix, sacred art, and statuary are often veiled in Catholic churches on the Saturday before the beginning of Passiontide. There are many possible explanations of the origin of this tradition, and you can read more about the significance of this there.

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Miserere Me – Psalm 51

miserere psalm 51

A mutual friend texted me the news, begging for prayers for the stricken family. I could barely choke out the words to tell my husband. My friend’s son, just 22 years old and loving father to two sweet babies, had died by suicide two hours earlier. I did the only thing I could think to do – I drove to the Adoration chapel.

I threw myself onto my knees and began to sob. For the next 45 minutes, I stormed Heaven, crying out for the salvation of his troubled soul and for comfort of his grieving mother. The agony etched on the Blessed Mother’s face in the statue of the Pieta haunted me, reminding me of my friend’s agony taking place in real time over 100 miles away. I prayed through the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, my heart heavy with the sudden gravity of their meaning. I couldn’t see through my tears as I fumbled through my Missal, desperate to find the words of any prayer that expressed lament or sorrow or a plea for mercy.

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Eternally Grateful

As we settled into the pew for Ash Wednesday Mass, I’d reminded my kids to “talk to Jesus” before Mass starts. At 11 years old, she knows the drill by now. Elizabeth leaned over to me as we both knelt in prayer, and she shared what had just happened.

Over the past few years, as my spiritual life has deepened, I have learned that sometimes God speaks to us through a Scripture that hits us a certain way, a poem, or a song lyric. Sometimes, He uses a more subtle approach, whispering into our hearts during time with nature or as we study beautiful art. So when she pulled me aside to tell to me about the connection she’d made, I was filled with a feeling of joy – joy for my girl’s discovery at what I am sure was the prompting of the Holy Spirit. So what was this sweet insight?

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Embracing the Cross

“Where there is life, there is hope.” – Bilbo Baggins

My husband and I have been married for just over ten years. Not a long time, but enough of a span to have learned a thing or two about the “for worst” part of our vows. We’ve weathered a deployment, nine moves, five pregnancies, one conversion process, depression, anxiety, family separations and heartache, legal challenges, and enough financial strain to make your head spin. There have been days when the only prayer I could I utter were the words Jesus spoke on the cross in agony: “My God, My God – why have You abandoned me?!”

My crosses are real. They threaten to crush me under their immense weight. I feel alone, struggling to breathe. Like the walls are closing in, and there’s no way out.

In the opening of St. James’ letter to the dispersed Church, in the midst of great persecutions, he writes: “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4.)  Excuse me? Consider it all joy? The heartache? The pain? The soul-crushing horror? How?! How am I supposed to do that?

Looking back at each of my crosses, I see where God used them to help me grow in love, in kindness, in humility (He keeps sending me the crosses to help with my humility…), in goodness, in mercy, in compassion, and in forgiveness. He is calling me to holiness, and providing me a way to get there. He is calling me to sainthood, to perfection. To completion.  And for this? For this, I am grateful for my crosses. If they bring me closer to Jesus, I daresay I love them. And with His help, I can even learn to embrace them. With joy.

What about you, sister? Pour yourself a cup of hot tea – or coffee with a splash of Bailey’s – and consider the crosses in your life. Pray about the one that is leaving you breathless. Weak. Tired. In that  moment, thank God for the opportunity to grow closer to Him. Ask Him to help you find the joy.