This Holy Week already is shaping up to be different from any other in recent memory.
Though we can’t celebrate Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection with our parish families, perhaps God is calling each of us to enter more deeply into these sacred mysteries with our family, the domestic church.
Perhaps now is a time for sharing in the isolation Jesus’ followers felt, and to grow in our desire to be united with Him again in the Holy Eucharist.
In addition to streaming the Holy Week and Triduum liturgies on EWTN, this guide will help you to make the most of #HolyWeekatHome.
Whether you have preschoolers, high schoolers, or are empty-nesters, there are so many ways you can bring Holy Week to life. Simply adapt these suggestions to fit any family size, budget, and level of crafting skill. The most important thing is to focus on Jesus–the “reason for the season.”
EWTN loves seeing what families do to cultivate the faith. Be sure to tag @ewtnmedia in your Instagram posts and stories, and use #HolyWeekatHome!
Since it’s Tuesday of Holy Week, we’ll begin with Tuesday.
Holy Week at Home:
Decorate a family Easter/Paschal candle:
Take a white or ivory pillar candle and decorate it with Christian symbols, like the cross, fish, pelican, Paschal lamb, lily, Sacred Heart of Jesus, seashells, anchor, butterfly, etc.
You can even make it look like your church’s Paschal candle by adding the year, an alpha and omega, and cloves or pieces of incense for the five wounds of Christ.
On a normal year, we try lighting it for the first time with the flame from our church’s new Paschal Candle. This year, we can make an exception. Light the candle for all meals during Easter and on special occasions.
Here’s an example:
Read the story of Judas betraying Jesus. Consider fasting today in reparation for blasphemies against Our Lord.
As another way to make reparation for sins, rally the family to do some extra chores in order to prepare for Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
Though this may seem like a ploy for moms to enforce chores, it is a penance the family can do together to grow in holiness. Sweeping floors, mopping, dusting, and folding laundry can be offered up, and it helps ring in the Easter season.
Out with the old of sin and death, in with new life!
Read the story of the Last Supper.
Recreate the Last Supper with whatever supplies you have on hand, such as bread, crackers, tortillas, juice, etc. You also can “play Mass” with your kids and discuss the different parts of the Mass.
Explain how, though your family is playing pretend, Jesus truly is present in the Eucharist, and the bread and wine at Mass really becomes His Body and Blood!
Here’s a recipe for Easter Bread:
Wash your children’s feet.
As part of the recreation of the Last Supper, parents can wash their children’s feet (it is especially powerful having the husband or head of the house wash everyone else’s feet!). Like Jesus, we are called to serve each other!
Usually, after the Holy Thursday Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is taken out of the Church and is in repose in a side chapel, where He remains until the Easter Vigil. Since adoring Jesus in-person is not possible at this time, spend some time in quiet prayer in front of an image or live-stream of the Blessed Sacrament.
Pray the Stations of the Cross together.
If you have multiple children, you can act out each station. Consider printing images of each of the stations, coloring them, and posting them around your home or yard so you can journey through the stations together.
Abstain from meat, and fast if you’re obligated. Other ways to do “little penances” include no salt or seasoning on food, no condiments or dressings, and eating prepared food cold (as opposed to reheating something leftover). Offer every little inconvenience in reparation for sins.
Read the Gospel account of Christ’s Passion & Venerate the Cross
At 3 p.m., read the Gospel account of the Lord’s Passion. Venerate the cross, and give your children the chance to kiss the Corpus of a crucifix. Observe a time of complete silence in the home (prepare your children for this!).
If you’ve covered the crosses and crucifixes in your home with purple cloth, you may remove the cloth, but leave the sacred images covered until the Easter Vigil.
Here’s a simple example of a covered holy water font and crucifix:
Make a Spiritual Communion
Holy Mass is NOT celebrated today. It is customary for parishes to have reception of Holy Communion during the Good Friday liturgy, so make an act of spiritual communion as a family.
Begin your Divine Mercy Novena
The Divine Mercy Novena traditionally begins on Good Friday. Here’s how to pray it.
Holy Mass is NOT celebrated today (until the Easter Vigil), so this is a somber time. Yet, we are hopeful! Try not to make this day too chaotic, but there is plenty to do to anticipate the Resurrection.
Blessing of the Easter Baskets
This is an Eastern European tradition. Ingredients used to make Easter dinner are blessed (Refer to photos below with the blessing). Children may have colored hard-boiled eggs blessed, as well as any “holy reminders” in their Easter baskets.
Here’s the blessing below:
Easter Story Cookies
Make these in the evening. When you read the recipe, you’ll understand why!
Here’s the recipe:
Other ways to make the most of Holy Week:
Keep it on all day for a full lineup of prayers, programs, and devotions to enter into the Lord’s Passion!
Do extra little penances (or big penances) throughout the week
Abstain from TV, caffeine, video games, social media (except EWTN, Church POP, etc. haha!) — little penances that will “sting” a bit. Remember, Jesus suffered an excruciating death, and compared to that, giving up TV is not so bad.
Listen only to religious music this week
For example, sacred hymns, contemporary Christian music, etc.
Spend extra time in prayer together as a family.
Consider the Litany of Humility, Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, or the Chaplet of St. Michael. Also consider making a daily “holy hour” together for coronavirus victims and healthcare workers.
Have a very blessed Holy Week!
Debbie Cowden is the Senior Digital Media Specialist for EWTN Global Catholic Network and co-host of EWTN Religious Catalogue. She lives in Ohio with her husband and three kids. Her go-to intercessors are the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, St. Gianna, St. Anthony, St. Clare, St. Jacinta, and St. Michael.
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