Holy Week is nearly upon us and Christians the world over are mourning the loss of our mass and/or services due to the Corona virus Pandemic that is sweeping the globe. For those of us who live the liturgical year with our kids, Holy Week is a biggie! And, where one might think that due to concern re: Covid-19 our focus is off, I can honestly say that it has been easier to stay focused on the true meaning of this season.
Sacrifice and suffering are two key tenants during Lent. And as many memes on social media state, this has been the Lentiest Lent. For sure this Lent is Lit, and no doubt Holy Week will continue in the same vein!
As we start to gear up for Holy Week, I wanted to put together a little guide, that encompassed some of the traditions we do together as a family.
But first, let’s talk a little about Holy Week …
Table of Contents
What Happened During Holy Week: Cliff Notes
- Palm Sunday (AKA Passion Sunday): So much Joy and So much Sorrow. Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent, it represents the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent. It’s a day of many highs and many lows. Palm Sunday recalls the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast (Matthew 21:1–9). Palm branches were placed in Jesus’ path and the people cried out to Him. “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9). On Palm Sunday we hold palms as a sign of our adoration to our Lord Jesus. In 5 short days the adoration will turn to betrayal as Jesus is crucified. Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday because the Passion of Christ is read at mass.
- Holy Monday: As Jesus makes His way to Jerusalem from Bethany, He is hungry, which tells us He is fasting. This is why most Christians eat simple meals this week and many of us fast. As Jesus passes a fig tree with no fruit, He curses the tree. Jesus and his disciples go into the temple, and upon seeing people selling, instead of praying, He overturns the tables in righteous anger. “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers” (Luke 19:46)…(Matthew 21:18-22 and 21:12-7; Mark 11:12-19; Luke 19:45-6; John 12:20-50)
- Holy Tuesday: Jesus passes the fig tree from the day prior and sees it withered and dying. Jesus and His disciples return to the temple and He enters and teaches. He is barraged with questions from the priests and scribes. He patiently debates them, despite the fact that they have already rejected Him in their hearts. “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and love salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation” (Luke 20:46-47).
- Holy Wednesday (AKA Spy Wednesday): Judas meets with the chief priests and asks, “What will you give me if I deliver Him to you?” (Matthew 26:15). The chief priests are overjoyed when Judas agrees to betray Jesus for a measly 30 pieces of silver.
The Easter Triduum
The Catholic celebration of the Easter Triduum marks the end of Lent. Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are three days, but one single liturgical day. The Tiduum unfolds Christ’s Paschal Mystery, the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Easter Triduum encompasses the three most important liturgical celebrations of the year: the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday eve, the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday at three pm (when it is widely believed He died), and finally, the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord beginning at the Easter Vigil, after sunset on Holy Saturday.
- Holy Thursday (AKA In Cena Domini, The Lord’s Last Supper): The focal point today is the establishment of the blessed Eucharist at the Last Supper. Immediately after Jesus consecrates the bread and wine into His body and blood, He institutes the priesthood by saying: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19b). This is also the first mass. After, Jesus asks his disciples to pray in the garden with him all night, and they fall asleep.
- Good Friday: The greatest day of mourning all year, the day of untold sorrow. In Catholic Churches across the world altars are bare, symbolizing this saddest of days. Catholics spend this day fasting, prayer, tears, doing the Stations in all their solemnity. Today, the true paschal Lamb, Jesus the Christ, is slain. At twelve noon He is nailed to the Cross and at three o’clock, when paschal lambs were being sacrificed in the Temple, He breathed His last.
- Holy Saturday: The calmest and quietest day of the entire year. Our Lord, Jesus Christ rests in the tomb in the sleep of death. He descends into “hell” where the souls of the holy who died before Him are waiting for His victory on the Cross. They receive Him with joy as He has reopens the gates of Heaven. In the evening, the Easter Vigil takes place, where the Church keeps watch and celebrates the Resurrection and awaits His return, His passage from death to life!
- Easter Sunday: Christian’s the whole world over rejoice in Christ’s resurrection! “He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. ” (Matthew 28:6), Alleluia! Alleluia! Today, Easter, the incarnate Son of God has finished His saving work. He has risen from the dead, thereby conquering sin and its consequence of death. The sins of the world which put Him on the Cross are defeated. He is victorious. Mankind, all of us, have been redeemed.
Food! Fun Ways To Keep The Focus For Kids
As a homeschool mom I make a point to teach my kids in ways that are memorable and fun. I was an awful student, the worst, because I just had zero interest, nothing was relative. Why was I diagramming sentences? Learning French? Dissecting frogs? Why was I being forced to write poetry? And learn about rocks, leaves and photosynthesis. It was all excruciating because I had no world view. I knew nothing outside of my little neighborhood.
As I grew older had kids, and took on the responsibility of educating, I had an epiphany … kids learn so much if the subject grabs their attention. And, what better way to grab their attention than to make the concept applicable to their daily life. Now, I know the tenants of Catholicism are exceptionally relative and, arguably, the only education of merit, but that doesn’t mean the idea of intrigue doesn’t hold true.
Kid love to cook. They love to help, they love choosing the meal, they love measuring and stirring and serving, they love it all (except the clean up). So, we often incorporate food when focusing on a liturgical season. During lent, we make various different foods that we can discuss in terms of the Lenten Season.
Pretzels and Lent? What? The pretzel is in the shape of arms folded in prayer. Pretzels are a delicious way to teach kids the value of prayer during Lent. Make sure you let them help make the dough, at the very least. It’s messy and sticky and they love it!!
So, I premake a double recipe of bagel dough to use for both bagels and pretzels, it’s easy and convenient and stores in your fridge for up to 14 days. Of course, in our home, it doesn’t last but 2 days. The following recipe makes about 20 pretzels and is easily doubled or halved.
3 cups Lukewarm Water
1 Tbsp Granulated Yeast
1 tbsp Salt
2 tbsp sugar
6.5 cups Bread Flour
1/4 cup baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
- Mix the yeast, salt and sugar with the water in a 6 qt bowl or a lidded food container.
- Mix in the flour without kneading. I use my hands.
- Cover (not airtight) loosely and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (flattens on top) for 2 hrs.
- The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though its easier to handle when cold.
- Preheat a baking stone to 450 degrees F. (20-30 minutes) with an empty broiler tray on any shelf that won’t interfere with baking.
- Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and pull off a grapefruit size piece (for 5 pretzels). Divide into 5 equal pieces. Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating 1/4 turn as you go.
- Elongate the ball, dusting with flour as necessary. Roll it back and forth with your hands on a flour dusted surface to form a long rope about 20″ long, approximately 1/2″ in diameter at the center and tapered on the ends.
- Twist the dough rope into a pretzel by first forming a horseshoe with the ends facing away from you. Fold the tapered ends down to the thick part of the rope, crossing them, one over the other. Extend the ends an inch beyond the bottom loop and gently pres them together.
- Keep the pretzels covered loosely with plastic wrap as you repeat the process to shape the remaining dough. Let the pretzels rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Prepare the boiling pot. Bring 8 qts water to a boil. Reduce to simmer and add the baking soda an sugar. Drop pretzels into the simmering water one at a time, making sure they are not crowding one another. Let simmer for 1 minute, and then flip them over to cook the other side for about 30 seconds.
- Remove them from the water using a slotted spoon, and place on a clean kitchen towel that has been dusted with flour. This will absorb some of the excess water from the pretzels. Then place them on a peel or spatula covered with whole wheat flour. Sprinkle with course salt.
- Slide the pretzels directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 15 minutes, until deeply browned and firm. If you want crisp pretzels, bake 5 to 10 minutes longer.
- Serve warm!
I love celebrating feast day throughout the year with special foods. And, let me tell you, after 40+ days of fasting and zero sugary snacks, palm sundaes are the most anticipated desert of the season!
Typically, we buy green ice cream, mint, pistachio, or you could buy vanilla and go the food coloring route if the typically green flavors don’t appeal to you or your family. We go all out here … it’s no holds barre. We buy all the fixins and everyone gets to make their own.
Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns, in our home and traditionally, served for breakfast on Good Friday. Hot Cross Buns are spiced buns and each is marked with the shape of a cross to symbolize Christ’s suffering and crucifixion. I don’t have my own recipe, in fact, every year I scour Pinterest in search of an easy, quick recipe.
This year I plan on using this one from Sallys Baking Addiction.
It has been mentioned once of twice that I am NOT a crafty mom. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I’m creative, I can come up with ideas, but the implementation of art is not my thing. Luckily I have kids who inherited their artistic abilities 100% from their dad. So, where I tend to be the initiator, they are the worker bees. 🙂
Resurrection Eggs are a hands on way to help children grasp the Passion of Christ. Check out my How To Post here. They are a hands on anecdote, they are simply plastic Easter Eggs that contain different Easter symbols inside to help kids learn the Easter story. I believe this idea originated from the children’s book Benjamin’s Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs.
Stain Glass Door/Window Painting
I’m on this like Flynn. This was our first time doing this, and it was a super fun project. Everyone got involved and I’m so excited about how it turned out.
Basically, outline a cross on a glass door or window and then outline various shapes surrounding. Then, turn the kids loose with either finger paints or washable Tempera Paint (what we used) and let them have fun.
Planting is setting up new life. And seeds off a visible message to kids of the power of new life.
To grow indoors, set eggshell halves filled with soil in an egg carton. Place marigold, zinnia, pepper, tomatoes or grapefruit seed in each (or for the fastest results grass seed). Place in a sunny window. And watch them grow!
Holy Week Activities
Kids love to decorate, design, color and otherwise make your home “pretty”. Holy Week is a great time to engage your little army of budding designers to spruce up your home with new life, aka, Spring!
Find the Greens
Yesterday was a stunningly beautiful day, today it’s snowing, but that’s of no consequence. We took advantage of the gorgeous Spring day and the kids and I are collected “signs of spring”. We brought into our home the first sprigs of green we found and showcased them in simple vases. My favorites are the sprigs we put in glass vases … so simple and pretty.
Prayer Vigil On Holy Thursday Night
This is like a family sleepover, but instead of movies and popcorn, we all have prayer books and a Bible and vow to stay up with Jesus and pray.
We try to make it as solemn as possible because, “Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? (Mt 26: 38-40)
As a family, we gather our blankets, pillows and sleeping bags and crash on the floor in either the master bedroom or the great room. We try to commit to stay awake and pray by candlelight with Jesus through the night, asking our younger kids for at least an hour. This year, we might take shifts, one hour each for the older crew …
The Passion of Christ
There is no better way to envision the pain and suffering of Jesus Christ, and his mother Mary, than to actually watch it unfold in front of your eyes. Hence, starting at noon on Good Friday, we watch the Passion of Christ, Mel Gibson’s version.
Trust me when I tell you, it’s not an anticipated movie, no-one moves throught, and there is never a dry eye at the credits. It is incredibly well done, as it leaves an indelible image of Christ dying for all of us on our minds.
If you enjoyed this post, I’d love it if you shared it amongst your friends. If you and your family have any traditions you’d like to share with us, please do so in the comment section below or send me a PM, I’d love to continue to ad to this post and of course, if we use your idea we can link to your blog, IG or whatever you’d prefer! God Bless!