No doubt things will be much different this year as we have now entered Holy Week, days away from the Holy Triduum, as we prepare to celebrate the holiest day of the year, Easter. This time of year is one of my favorites, all of our preparation during Lent, our small sacrifices and offerings now made glorious as we celebrate the joy of the Resurrection. To see my children on Easter morning get up and exclaim, “He is Risen!” as they look into their empty tombs (shoeboxes) where their drawings of Jesus once lay.
When Masses were suspended, my heart ached when I heard it included Easter as well. To not be present during the most solemn liturgies leading up to Easter, not able to walk with Christ through His Last Supper, His Passion and death left me wondering how could I fully appreciate Easter if my heart is not made ready beforehand.
The Triduum liturgies, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil, are filled with so much symbolism, meaning, depth, and richness. The smell of incense, the darkness, the silence, the candles glowing, the reverence, there is so much to take in. I realize the children may not get as much out of it, and my focus is simply on how to keep everyone from meltdowns while we are going to Mass during bedtimes and then the next day as we gather in church during naptime. But there are so many sights, sounds, and smells to observe that allow our whole being to truly enter in.
To go back and be present with Christ as He shared the Passover meal, knowing fully what would happen to Him, to sit with Him in prayer as He agonized in the Garden just hours from being arrested, to walk through His Passion, His carrying of the cross, the Crucifixion, all moments that transform our hearts to be made ready to celebrate Easter.
In the past days I have been reflecting on how I can live Holy Week at home, specifically the Triduum, with my family. In addition to streaming the liturgies on our projector, what else can be done to help us participate in these holy days?
Holy ThursdayThis day is a celebration of Christ giving us both the Eucharist and instituting the priesthood. Have a special meal to celebrate. There are many different suggestions for a meal; some suggest lamb, roast beef, or steak; unleavened bread; potatoes; applesauce; greens; wine or grape juice; and dessert since it is a festive day. This is the Mass when we ring bells joyfully while singing the Gloria. Have the children ring bells while reciting the Gloria. Have the husband wash the wife and children’s feet modeling Christ’s servant leadership. At the end of the viewing of the Mass turn off all of the lights and fill the house with lit candles. Begin streaming Eucharistic Adoration, symbolizing staying present with Christ as he prayed in the Garden. Try to keep a more peaceful and quiet tone as you bring the children to bed.
Good FridayRead through the Passion narrative outside of the streaming or along with it, while each taking different speaking parts. Have a cross or crucifix present that can be venerated as we normally do during the liturgy with a bow or a kiss. Ask the children to draw pictures of Jesus on the cross and then place them in an empty shoebox and seal it shut, to symbolize the tomb. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Stations of the Cross. You can find some easy ones to print off and have the children color. Place them throughout the house so it will be as if you are walking the road to Calvary with Christ.
Holy Saturday starts in darkness, usually outside of the church with a fire used to light the Easter candle. Have a bonfire and sit around it while reading some of the readings from the Vigil Mass, or perhaps all eight of them. This traditionally is a day when new Catholics enter the Church and are baptized. Light everyone’s baptismal candles, and look at pictures or watch recordings of the children’s Baptisms. Pray or sing the Litany of the Saints, which is usually done when there are candidates for Baptism.
Copyright 2020 Cassie Everts
Image credit: By Laura Allen (2019), Unsplash.com, CC0/PD
About the Author
Cassie Everts is a wife, the mother to five little ones in heaven and five children on earth. She is the co-author of Nursery of Heaven: Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Loss in the Lives of the Saints and Today's Parents. She blogs at Everyday Ann where she writes about faith, marriage, motherhood, infertility and adoption. Before becoming a full-time mom, she was a producer at Relevant Radio.