If I have to be honest, I would need to say that my observance of Lent this year was not exactly as I had planned it. Don’t get me wrong, it has been a good Lent. But back on Ash Wednesday I had a whole list of things that I wanted to do in order to really observe the season well. I wanted to have an element of “retreat” about these 40 days; I wanted to pray more often and more deliberately; I wanted to carve out time every day for some spiritual reading.
As we enter Holy Week, and I look back over the last 6 weeks, I realize sadly that I have fallen a little short of what I had hoped for. Perhaps your experience of Lent was similar?
If so, we still have time! Holy Week presents a great opportunity to prepare well for Easter.
As we enter this most holiest of weeks, here are a few possible ways we can observe it in its fullness, and so make a good preparation for the great Paschal Mystery:
- We can commit ourselves, as much as possible, to live differently during this week – more deliberate, more intentional, more conscious of these days and the approaching Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday).
- We can “hone” the fasts we’ve been observing during Lent: This week we can fast from all needless noise; fast from non-essential activity each day; fast from the “normal” routines that fill our days in order to make them different – just for this week.
- We can choose a favorite collection of religious-themed music, movies, or television shows, and listen to or watch them instead of our regular radio / television habits.
- Each day, we can spend time with the Holy Week readings from daily Mass. These are some of the most profound and moving Scriptures that lead up to the great proclamation of the Empty Tomb.
- We can surround ourselves with the presence and the support of our parish and our family. We can get the parish’s schedule of liturgies and prayers during this week (e.g., penance services, tenebrae, morning or evening prayer) and plan on taking part in as many of these opportunities as we can.
- And most importantly, we can commit ourselves observe the Triduum and to participate in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday), the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion (Good Friday), the great Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday night) or Easter Sunday Mass.
Holy Week does present a wonderful opportunity to more fully prepare for Easter. May it be so for all of us, and may Easter be filled with all of the new life, the renewal of our baptismal promises!