featured image

AnneMarie Miller reflects on the benefits of bringing her young kids to the lengthy Masses during Holy Week. 

Deacons and priests from around the archdiocese trailed down the long aisle of the cathedral, past my young sons, who stood at the end of the pew. My boys were mesmerized. We had gathered for the Chrism Mass: the annual liturgy during Holy Week when oils are blessed for sacramental use, and when the priests renew their promises. Here, at the beginning of this solemn liturgy, my sons were the recipients of “high-fives” from many priests and deacons; a memory that they joyfully recalled a year later. It was a long liturgy that stretched from dinnertime until bedtime, so it was not an easy experience with three kids under the age of six. Yet, it was beautiful, and I’m grateful we went.  




Holy Week may seem like a sprint to some people, since we are extremely close to Easter after a long season of Lent. I, however, see Holy Week as more of a liturgical marathon. After attending the Chrism Mass on Tuesday of Holy Week, we rest for a day at home, and then reach the Triduum. Our family gathers at our parish for the Holy Thursday liturgy, the Good Friday Service, and finally, the Easter Vigil.

Between driving to and from the church, arriving early to find seats and staying late to briefly pray, and the lengthy liturgies themselves, several hours of Holy Week are spent preparing for—or participating in—the liturgy. Sometimes, it feels like a lot, especially with young kids. Yet, my husband and I love the Holy Week liturgies, and we want to attend them—and bring our children along, too!  

As I ponder the liturgies this week, I keep thinking of what a gift they are to my children. In them, the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Christ come alive in a renewed way for my kids. Each Holy Thursday, my kids join the throng of people who process from the church to the altar of repose, where they breathe in the fresh scent of flowers and stay with Christ as we recall his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. The next day, my kids see the stark solemnity of Good Friday. Then, they excitedly watch the bonfire at the Easter Vigil, as we recount the way in which Christ, our Light, saves us from the darkness of sin.  

These liturgies also provide a visual way for my young kids to ponder the significance of the sacraments. Each year, my children see the blessing of oils: oils that they each received at Baptism. Each year, they witness the priests renew the promises that they made when they were first ordained. Each year, my kids watch with excitement as catechumens and candidates receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. Not only are my kids able to see the joy that people have in receiving these sacraments, but these moments throughout the week provide great opportunities to discuss the sacraments with our kids.  




On the practical side of things, the Holy Week liturgies force us to simplify life and prayerfully focus on the suffering and death of Christ. These beautiful liturgies are lengthy and take place in the evening (some dioceses celebrate the Chrism Mass in the morning, but ours is in the evening). This often means late bedtimes and simple dinners, but it also means that the liturgy becomes the main focus and priority in our week. In fact, since we know that the kids will have late bedtimes, we’re less-inclined to fill our days with activity and noise. A quiet schedule makes it easier to attend long evening liturgies without being completely exhausted.  


Click to tweet:
How can we help our kids participate in the liturgical life of the Church during Holy Week? #CatholicMom

While my kids may not be able to fully articulate these benefits right now, they are able to see that this week is a particularly holy and special time in the year. Even when they grumble about putting on “Mass clothes” over and over, and even when a toddler of mine leaps around in the back of church, pretending to be Spider-Man, there is still a peace and joy that seeps into their small bodies.  

The Easter Vigil fire and post-Mass reception at midnight don’t hurt, either.  

How can we help our kids participate in the liturgical life of the Church during Holy Week?  



Copyright 2023 AnneMarie Miller
Images: Canva