Holy Week is one of those times during the liturgical year that I struggle observing the most.
I don’t have a problem with the last days in Advent, because everything is already so Christmas-y already that I can’t help but be reminded of the day we’re looking forward to at the end.
But Lent is a different story. Perhaps it’s because it’s longer, or because it’s filled with more sacrifices, or maybe just because the spring season is so busy and filled with events all around that the end of it always sneaks up on me.
This year I want to observe Holy Week in the best way I can. So I’ve come up with a list of 5 things I’m going to do to try to observe Holy Week in the best ways I can. If you’re so inclined, feel free to join with me – or give me some suggestions on things I should have included!
1. Read the Daily Readings
With work and growing a baby, I just know I won’t make it to Mass every day of Holy Week, as much as I’d like to. So this year I’m going to commit to reading the readings every day of Holy Week in preparation for Easter. If you have a subscription to Magnificat, they’re all set up there for you – if not, just click on over to the USCCB website each day and read to your heart’s content. You can also listen to it at work via iTunes or on their website here. If you’ve got a smartphone, download Laudete in your marketplace and the daily readings are the top link in the navigation pane! (Ahh, the age of the internet. Glorious, isn’t it?)
2. Go to Confession
Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Holy Week always feels like the best Confession I have all year. Perhaps it’s because it’s a set time that I always go, but more than that I think it’s because Jesus’ suffering and death seem so much closer than during the rest of the year. I always try to go at least twice during Lent, and this is one of the times I make sure to get there. Celebrating Easter Sunday Mass feels extra-special with a squeaky-clean soul.
3. Pray the Stations of the Cross
If you can squeeze it, try to pray the Stations of the Cross – either at your local parish or by yourself. I have vivid memories praying the Stations of the Cross every Friday afternoon during grade school, but after that they became harder to fit in my schedule. (Yes, I realize that was over 10 years ago…whoops.) But I do always try to pray them during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday. Most parishes should have a time on Good Friday where the Stations are prayer together as a community, sometimes in conjunction with a Good Friday Service. If your parish doesn’t have them, no worries! You can find lots of versions online to pray (again, thank you Internetz) – here’s one of my favorites.
4. Add Some Sacrifices
During Holy Week, I like to pile on the Lenten sacrifices, especially if I’ve failed a few times during the season of Lent (which for me is inevitable). Okay, maybe I don’t pile them on, but I do like to sacrifice a couple of extra things during Holy Week. Sometimes that’s things I was considering giving up for the entirety of Lent, or perhaps it’s just adding some more daily prayer to my schedule. A couple of my favorites for Holy Week are: no TV/radio (or limited), giving up your pillow at night, no snooze button for the week, or praying a rosary every day. Anything works though – I like to think of it as the extra “adrenaline rush” I might need to be prepped for Easter.
5. Think about Holy Week
This seems kind of like a “duh, Hannah” sort of piece of advice – but I find that just reminding myself that it’s Holy Week helps me to remember and appreciate the last days of Lent. If you’re busy like me, maybe set an alarm on your phone that pops up every day of the week that just says “Holy Week!” on it. Or find some other way to remind yourself – put a sticky note on your desk (added bonus of evangelization, maybe?) or a note on your bathroom mirror. Doing all the above-mentioned things might help you to remember more than normal but a little help never hurts.
Hopefully this list helps me remember to observe Holy Week better this year than any other year…there’s always room for improvement, right? What am I missing on the list – how do you observe Holy Week?