With Great Lent winding down, we sense the nearness of Pascha—the Feast of Feasts! After the ‘bridge’ of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, we’ll arrive at the distinct point of Holy Week. It will be time for us to “go up to Jerusalem,” sharing in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s Passion, Crucifixion, and triumphant Resurrection. The watchful disposition of the Church is, especially at this time, reflected in the home. It is a week that calls for prayer, focus, stamina, and—for most of us—planning! Over the last few years, the Center for Family Care has produced two webinars specifically designed to encourage families to experience Holy Week in a rich and meaningful way. Along with new supplemental discussion points, we offer these presentations again to assist your family in its Holy Week preparation.
- Observing Holy Week usually means setting aside time from our busy lives. By simplifying our agendas, we are better able to give our attention to spiritual matters during this special period—both as we worship in our parishes and in our home life. As every family has its own set of needs and responsibilities, it’s important to make a Holy Week plan that is practical for your household. As parents and caregivers, consider meeting to assess the week’s obligations of work, school, and home, and how church attendance and family time can be prioritized. Can non-essential activities or appointments be postponed? If they are of appropriate age, how can your children be involved in the planning process?
- Holy Week invites us to live in such a way where the life of the Church is especially represented in the home. This occurs through what we do and the environment we create. The disciplines of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are emphasized during this time as aids to follow Christ. How can you—as much as possible—pray together, eat Lenten meals, and consider some type of charitable giving or benevolent action. How can you begin conversations about what was seen and heard during church services? Would it be possible to display Holy Week icons (or printable images from the Internet) in prominent places in your home? Also, in thinking about Holy Week traditions you have—or would like to start—in your home (dyeing eggs, for example), is it possible to involve as many family members as possible?
- As a follow-up discussion to home practices and rituals during Holy Week, it would be useful to reduce—if not entirely eliminate—unnecessary smartphone, computer, television, radio, and social media use. This will help remove excess distractions in order to seek the intentional peace required for the time. As adults, how can you model this faithfully so your children can see that spiritual activities are taking precedence? If you don’t entirely put away electronic devices, how can you make the best use of them? Can you watch online church services when unable to physically attend or listen to Orthodox Christian hymns or podcasts? For further information, refer to the Holy Week resource guide included in this supplement.
- Parish services and auxiliary activities during Holy Week are often many. Obtain a copy of the schedule from your parish if possible and determine when you and your family members are able to attend. This is the time to be there! If you don’t already, can you consider purchasing the adults and of-age children in your home copies of the Holy Week book to help engage them during the services? They are incredibly helpful! Are your children able to serve—the boys in the altar, or the girls as ‘myrhhbearers’ at the Lamentations service on Holy Friday evening? And as challenging as it might be, how can you encourage disinterested teens or young adults to join you at services?
Remember to plan your family’s Holy Week schedule in a way that’s doable. It’s all about focusing our hearts and minds on Christ—whether we are in our church or at home—to the best of our ability.
*Of particular note, if it is possible for all of-age family members to attend the Sacrament of Confession before, or during, Holy Week, it is of great benefit! Contact your priest (sooner, rather than later!) to make arrangements.