How to Celebrate Holy Week in Your Domestic Church

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In the weeks leading up to Holy Week and Easter, the Catholic Church encourages us to persevere in our Lenten penances so that we can “come safely to the paschal festivities.”

But what if paschal festivities look different this year than ever before?

For many, Holy Week and Easter will come and go in the liturgical calendar with no public Masses, gatherings, or traditional celebrations. Many of us are in lock-down or quarantine situations, combatting the reality of Coronavirus.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t participate in the beauty of Holy Week and Easter, though!

If you’re looking for practical and easy ways to enter into Holy Week and the joy of Easter from the domestic church of your own home, here are a few ideas!

Preparing for Holy Week

Even though we’re still a few weeks off from the start of Holy Week, you can start forming liturgical habits in your own home today.

Enter into the daily Liturgy of the Word

Whether you gather to pray with a live-stream Mass or enter into a prayer service at home, continue to make Sunday a day of worship.

Cover up crucifixes, statues, and sacred art throughout your home

Beginning on the fifth Sunday of Lent (today!), you can enter into liturgical living by covering up the crosses, crucifixes, statues, and sacred art throughout your home.

This practice heightens our senses, alerting us of the coming beauty of Holy Week and the joyful celebration of Easter. Crosses and crucifixes are uncovered on Good Friday, while all other sacred art and statues remain covered until the Easter Vigil.

Pray for catechumens and candidates

Easter Vigil is normally a time where catechumens and candidates come home to the Catholic Church. But with many dioceses throughout the world canceling public Easter Masses, those preparing to enter into the Church are surrounded by the unknown. You can remember them specifically in your prayers in the weeks leading up to Holy Week.

If you know the names of catechumens and candidates from your parish, remember to pray for them by name!

Palm Sunday

Enter into the Liturgy of the Word

Continue to pray with the Scripture readings of the day. If you live with family, read the passion narratives out loud together. Have a meaningful conversation about the different people who play a role in the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord.

Shout Hosanna!

It may feel a little silly to shout “Hosanna,” especially given the current state of the world. But don’t worry about what the person who shares an apartment wall will think. Enter into the liturgy unabashed.

If you still have your palm from last year, put in in a place you’ll see it throughout the day.

Choose something for your holy week meditations

Whether it is a poem, a passage of Scripture, or a quote from one of your favorite saints, choose something intentional and specific to keep at the front of your mind during this Holy Week.

Holy Thursday

Enter into the Liturgy of the Word

The readings for Holy Thursday remind us of the beauty of the Eucharist and the priesthood. Have a meaningful conversation about both of these sacraments with friends (over the phone!) and family today.

Even if you can’t receive the Eucharist, you can make a spiritual act of communion. Make time to thank God for the gift of the Eucharist and look forward with hope to the next time you can receive Him sacramentally.

Wash each other’s feet

When Christ washed the feet of the twelve, it served as a reminder to them (and us!) to serve others in our daily life. You can wash the feet of family members literally today, but you can also intentionally serve them and work on honoring them with selfless acts of love.

Do you live alone? Saint Basil wrote, “Whose feet do you wash? Whom do you care for? To whom do you make yourself inferior and last of all since you live alone?” If you’re at home by yourself during Holy Thursday, serve others around you in some way. Call your neighbors to see if they’re doing okay. Check in with family who also live alone.

Sit with the Lord

One of my favorite parts of Holy Thursday is the adoration vigil. But with churches and adoration chapels closed to the public, these vigils look different.

You may not be able to be as close to Christ in the Eucharist as you’d like, but you can still drive up to the church parking lot and meditate on Christ reposed in the tabernacle inside.

Strip the altar of your domestic church bare

Holy Thursday is the night where the altar is stripped bare. Maybe you have a home altar set up that you can clean off. But you can also do the same with your table, where you gather for meals and fellowship together.

Empty holy water fonts

If you have holy water fonts throughout the house, empty them in preparation for the beauty of Easter.

Good Friday

Participate in the Liturgy of the Word

Read the readings of the day (including the passion narrative!) and pray for those traditionally remembered in the solemn intercessions, like those who do not believe in Christ and those who are in moments of tribulation.

Venerate the Cross

If you covered up the crucifixes and crosses in your home in preparation for Holy Week, uncover them and show reverence to the cross (whether by genuflecting or kissing the cross).

Silence the bells in your home

Church bells are not rung on Good Friday, reminding the people of the solemness of the day.

You can silence the (notification) bells of your own home, too. Set your phone to do not disturb, silent, or power it off all together if you can. Let this Good Friday be a day of silence and remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Bake hot cross buns

Gather around the kitchen to make homemade hot cross buns. You can talk about the origin of this bread as a family and mark the cross on the top of the bread to remember the sacrifice of Christ today.

Pray the Stations of the Cross

A beautiful prayer to remember each step of Christ’s walk to Calvary, you can pray these with your family at the 3:00pm hour, honored in a special way as the time when Christ breathed his last.

Easter Vigil

Enter into the Liturgy of the Word

The readings for the Easter Vigil contain seven readings, an epistle, and the Gospel. And if you’re in lock down mode, what better way to spend your time on Easter Vigil than by tracing salvation history throughout Scripture!

Light candles throughout your home

Remind yourself of the beauty of Easter Vigil Mass by lighting candles throughout your home.

Easter Sunday 

Enter into the Liturgy of the Word

The readings for Easter Sunday are full of hope and rejoicing – both things we all need more of right now. Whether you tune into your local parish Mass via Facebook live or you gather with family to read the Liturgy of the Word, make time today for worship.

Sing Alleluia!

We haven’t been able to say this word for forty days, so shout it from the rooftops and wish your neighbors a joyful Easter!

Participate in holy leisure

It’s tempting to fill all of our days with busyness and to-dos. But on Easter (and all Sundays!) participate in some good, holy leisure. The pace of today should be slow and relaxed.

Read a good book aloud. Participate in meaningful conversations. Play board games. Get outside and enjoy the weather if possible. Focus on being a human being, not a human doing.

Connect with family and friends

If you’d normally be gathered around your grandma’s dining room table laughing with your uncles and joking with cousins, call them up on face-time or video chat today! There’s no reason you have to be isolated on Easter, despite social distancing.

Share memories of your favorite Easters from the past and look forward to the day (God willing, soon!) when you’ll be able to gather in person again.

Love7

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