Ah Holy Week… the week that always begins with the same painful realization that I have 40 days of penance to make up in a week. I really started out strong this Lent. Then… I sort of forgot it was Lent. Ok, I didn’t really forget, I more “discovered” my previously untapped creativity for finding excuses about why it was ok to indulge in my Lenten sacrifice “just this once.” It’s Sunday, the baby’s sick, it’s family TV-watching time (nevermind that I’m the only member of our family who really enjoys TV… perhaps a little too much, hence the choice as my Lenten fast), or my personal favorite: I only gave up TV at night, and it’s clearly still evening. I’m not sure how I reasoned that my TV fast only mattered at night when I should be sleeping or that 8pm was still evening, but I bought it once or twice. Oh what wonderful intentions I had; those same ones that pave that slippery road to hell. And here we are at Holy Week, with me searching for other penances that might help me make up for all of those hiatuses from my Lenten observance.
I don’t know that that’s the best way to spend my Holy week. I think the most important thing that we do this week is to really try to live it, not just during the liturgical observances, but each day, as it happened in the life of Christ. At least, we’ll do our best. We have plans to attend the Holy Thursday evening Mass, then come home for dinner. Perhaps we’ll try to stay at church just a little while in “silent” adoration. I put silent in quotes because with a one-year-old, not much is silent. He seems to take our silent prayer time as his cue to make up in volume where we are so clearly dropping the ball. That, or he assumes we’re not paying attention, and darts to the altar to attempt to dismantle the floral arrangements. Nice try, kiddo, nice try… Then, we will return home for a nice but simple family dinner. Hopefully one large enough to tide us over until noon on Friday because, as I have previously mentioned, I’m not good at fasting.
Good Friday is a tough one because, well, all the fasting. I mentioned to Matt that I was already dreading it, and I saw his posture drop as he sighed deeply and responded, “me too.” Ah Good Friday, that day where I very quickly transition from “the woman he married” into some hulk-ish, ill-tempered dragon lady. I think I’ll spend the day praying for the self-control to fast with love and kindness. We’ll see how that goes. I think Matt is already looking for reasons to stay late at work that night. On Good Friday, we also always try to do the Stations of the Cross and watch The Passion of the Christ. Last year we both passed out before Jesus even got to Pilot. If you can sleep through a movie like that, you’re either new parents or you’re on very high doses of narcotics. We were the former.
I can’t lie that I never know exactly what to do on Saturday. It was a tradition in my family that we did not listen to music or watch television all day to create a sort of silent observance. I think we’ll keep that tradition going, and just try to spend some time together as a family, since we get so little of that these days. Then on the big day, we’ll head to Mass (and do our very best to be on time!). I love Mass on Easter Sunday. I love the bells that ring so loudly to announce the Resurrection of our Lord and the extra large crowd at Mass. Normally that would not be something I’d celebrate, as I’m a big fan of my own “space,” but somehow, it’s ok when it means that people who don’t normally celebrate the presence of God in their lives by attending Mass show up, perhaps with the conviction to do better about that this year. I love that Easter gives us an excuse to dress up a little bit more for Mass – maybe that’s just the superficial side of me that loves a good sundress – but I find it helps me to remember that this day actually IS different from any other day because it’s the day when we celebrate the true power of our God. He conquered death and freed us from even the greatest tyranny: that which we inflict on ourselves when we enslave ourselves to sin. On Easter Sunday, we realize that we truly have nothing to fear and every cause for joy because our Savior has risen from the dead, so bring on the Peeps!
PS If you are hoping to cut out secular distractions this Holy Week but would like something spiritually enriching to put on as “background noise” while you do mindless work like dishes or laundry, check out the homilies on CatholicPreaching.com. Fr. Landry is a very holy priest with a wonderful gift for preaching!