Find below some helpful reflections and activities to make your stay at home Easter a prayerful experience for you and your family.
As we approach the end of the 40 days of Lent this year, a Lent which is unlike any other Lent that we know – no mass, no sacraments, no gathering with the church community that loves and supports us, we have to remember that Lent is a season for us to turn back to God with a full transformation of hearts and minds and souls. Regardless of where we are in life, God is waiting patiently to change our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and alms-giving are means to free us for that transformation.
Palm Sunday ushers in Holy Week, which culminates in the Triduum – the three holy days in the Church’s liturgical calendar when we celebrate the Paschal Mystery – the death and resurrection of Jesus. Following how the Jewish people count their days, from dusk to dusk, the three days of the Triduum begin with the evening of Holy Thursday and end in the evening of Easter Sunday.
Since we cannot separate Jesus death from his resurrection, the Triduum is actually one big celebration that lasts three days.
We remember the last supper that Jesus had with his disciples before his death. The gospels depict for us two different scenes of the last supper. The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke highlight the meal, where Jesus blessed the bread and wine, and gave them to his disciples to partake, and asked that they continue to do it in his memory. The gospel of John, on the other hand, describes for us how Jesus, during that supper, got up and washed the disciples’ feet, and told them that it is an example for them, and that they “also should do as [he] had done” for one another. Put together, they are lessons of total giving and service.
Good Friday is the day when we remember Jesus’ crucifixion and death on the cross. Jesus’ death resulted from his being faithful to his mission. It is also an ultimate sign of God’s love for us. In order to reveal Himself to us and show us the way to life, God would not even spare the life of His only son.
Christ crucified and hanging on the cross, powerless and foolish by the standards of the world, is totally beyond human comprehension. It upends our values and common sense. Yet it is precisely through the cross that we are made whole again. St Paul writes, “We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and wisdom of God.” (I Cor 1:23-24) How the cross makes us whole is something to ponder on this day.
We celebrate Christ risen! The suffering and death of Jesus was not the end, there is new life.
In the early times, Christians gathered at vigils to pray and prepare themselves before important feast days. The lighting of the new fire at our Paschal Vigil, which is then used to light the Paschal candle, symbolizes Christ the Light dispelling the darkness in our hearts and in our world. It also symbolizes that life would prevail despite suffering and even death. Perhaps that hope has an even more special significance for us this year amidst all the uncertainties and loss.
Some suggestions for prayer and reflection during this time of the pandemic:
Although the COVID-19 situation and the guidelines of “physical distancing” left us all isolated, and have prevented us from praying and living the Triduum as we would normally do, or even gathering as Church, we can still, through other ways, celebrate the Triduum as meaningfully as we can. The family is the domestic church, we can start with the family, or the individual, if we are living alone. Here are some suggestions that individuals and families can consider doing during this Holy Week.
1.Bishop Jon will continue with live-streaming mass each day on our Diocesan facebook page (facebook.com/dioceseofmackenzie). Spend some time in prayer each day by praying the mass. If you missed the livestreaming, you can still access the video any time.
2. The liturgy for the Triduum will also be live-streamed. You can find the schedule elsewhere on this website and on the Facebook page. Although live-streaming is not the same as being physically present for the celebration of the Eucharist, It will still be a wonderful opportunity for us all to come together as a diocese to pray and celebrate. They can be moments of grace.
There are also other activities which you can also consider:
3.Read the relevant scripture passages of the day.
Holy Thursday John 13: 1-15
Good Friday John 18:1 – 19:42
Easter Vigil Luke 24: 1-12
Easter Sunday John 20: 1-18
4. Engage in reflections for each day of the Holy Week (2020 is Year A)
5. Find out more about the meaning and symbols of each day of the Triduum through this pamphlet. It also has suggestions for family activities.
For Good Friday especially, perhaps you may consider praying the Stations of the Cross.
6. A scripture-based Stations of the Cross which was used by Pope John Paul II on Good Friday in 1991.
7. A Stations of the cross in which we bring to mind all those suffering in today’s world while we remember the passion of Jesus.
- For parents of young children, some activities to engage them and to teach them about Holy Week: