As we move towards Holy Week and this years’ Lenten fasts seem to be including Mass as well, let us meditate on what is most precious to us in this most holy of seasons.
With your family, prepare a sacred space with a prayer table and perhaps some sort of diorama that tells the story of Easter. Just as we do at Christmas. Perhaps using a box or paper prepare the space where he will be laid. Have a last supper area, a way of the cross. Get everyone involved in making this celebration more meaningful and personal in a way that brings the responsibility home to you.
I have been noticing suggestions for Palm Sunday, such as putting a branch on your door to show that you are celebrating the feast. I invite you to go even further. In the church we call the coming Sunday Passion Sunday, the day we read the passion of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 26:14-27:66). As it happens, the Gospel we read at the beginning of the Mass on the entry into Jerusalem of Jesus on a donkey is also from Matthew (Matthew 21:1-11). What if you begin as a family reading the Gospel of Jesus entering Jerusalem at your front door (just as we do in Mass) and then lay your palms on your doors or near your entry way? This then makes your house the place where the event will occur in holy week.
Your family can journey through holy week reflecting on each of the four Gospel writings on the passion. Perhaps you may reflect on how similar or different they are from on another and how with all of the versions we get a fuller account of the message of Jesus.
Back to Passion Sunday. Read ALL of the readings (Isaiah 50:4-7, Psalm 22:8-9,17-18,19-20,23-24), Philippians 2:6-11). As the first Gospel proclaims what happened on Calvary was to fulfill what the prophets had said. You get a picture painted of what is to come and that it is all part of the Plan of God. The Psalm could be written out and the response shared by the family.
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Did God truly abandon Jesus? Was his pain and suffering, his death, all for nothing? We see that it is through suffering that God works his greatest work. In Jesus’ suffering and death, death (not Jesus) was overcome. Now we know that we will never die forever but will rise to eternal live with him. Sounds like cause for excitement for us all who are suffering at this time. From the darkness God brings his light. And in that light, darkness flees, the light overcomes the darkness EVERY TIME. As we pray this psalm, we can reflect that, yes Jesus suffered and maybe even felt abandoned, but we also know Jesus knew this psalm and he was aware that God had a plan for all of us. A plan that required us to pay a price and a plan that would be so much more than we could ask or imagine.
The verse before the Gospel shows us:
“Christ became obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.”
With a small amount of preparation, you could then share out parts for the reading of the Gospel, according to the reading ability and the sensibilities of your children and household members. If you have a small household, you could link via video with another household (or two) to share this retelling of a narrative so central to our faith. This story of our Salvation.
A time of final preparation. A time to reflect. Prepare a quite space to pray individually and as a family. Prepare candles to be lit to show the light of the risen Christ who is stronger than the darkness of death. You could have one for each family member. They could decorate them with their name or own unique symbols.
Some ideas for decorating candles could include
- Painting on them with acrylic paint
- Adding a sleeve which could be drawn on (be careful of fire hazards and place the sleeve away from the flame)
- Placing the candle on a unique saucer or paper plate
- Putting a ribbon around the candle
- Having different styles or heights of candles to reflect individuals
Again, reflect on the readings for the Mass. Prepare a meal for your family in which you remember the events on that night. The words of Jesus. As you read about breaking bread, share the bread on your own table. It is not the Eucharist, but the people gathered are the Eucharist for one another. Just as Jesus shared his body with us, we share our lives with one another.
To help you here are the readings for Holy Thursday, read them and reflect on them with one another.
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18
1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
John 13: 1-15
Wash one another’s feet. Serve one another.
Set up a family roster to pray all through the night.
The way of the cross. Get the family to help prepare the stations of the cross around your home. Each place is prepared and reflected on by the same person. Get family and friends to do a station each and share the prayer via video chat. There are many great resources to help you reflect on each station, but make it personal, make it understandable. Imagine yourself as a witness to the events for each station. Pray for the world, pray for yourself, pray to have the courage and love of Jesus.
The readings from the liturgy for Good Friday are:
Psalms 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Be still. Have a time of silence with the whole family stopping normal activities and just being still with Jesus.
This is the most wonderful of liturgies, the High Mass of the year. We recall our history and we look forward to life in glory with God.
The vigil begins with a liturgy of light, where we see the light of the resurrection growing larger to chase away the darkness. You can use your candles you made here. Darken your rooms and light the candles and see how the darkness is chased away. Sit silently and enjoy the new light as it begins to fill all of creation. There are many beautiful prayers in the liturgy and you can see them here. http://liturgies.net/Liturgies/Catholic/roman_missal/eastervigil.htm
What a great opportunity to enjoy all of the readings and psalms, a feast for us of God’s word and his work throughout all of time.
Spend time together with these words.
Alleluia he is here!
Make Alleluia posters to put all over the house. Finally, we can sing for joy. He is alive and our salvation is at hand.
If you have built a tomb, crack it open.
We begin the party today. This celebration will last 50 days. Have you stocked up for it? Have you filled your home with Jesus life and light? Stockpile his love so that you can share. As you contact family and friends, begin with Allelluia!
Have your egg hunts and your chocolate, but even more fill yourself with the power of rebirth, a new life is here for all of us. It is awaiting us as we too will rise from our hiding places.
Go outside and shout to your neighbours
“Allelluia, he is risen indeed!”
“God’s not dead, he is alive”
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