Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
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Everyday Grace: Juggling homework with Holy Week? Hereís help
by Mary Cronk Farrell
(From the March 21, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)
Though it is the most sacred time of year for Christians, Holy Week can be challenging for families. Unlike Christmas, thereís no school vacation. Parents may be juggling homework, sports and music lessons along with church services. Looking ahead at your calendar and making plans now can help.
The Church offers a powerful way of moving through this climax of the liturgical year in the Easter Triduum. It begins with Holy Thursday Mass and continues through a Good Friday service and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening. Experiencing these celebrations with my husband and children, together with our parish community, is truly the height of the liturgical year for me.
One thing that has been especially meaningful is when our parish has begun the Triduum with a Seder supper. The traditional Hebrew Passover meal traces through story, song and symbol the Israelitesí escape from Egypt. Itís a beautiful celebration of Godís faithfulness and the journey of a people from slavery to freedom.
Jesusí Last Supper with his disciples is commonly believed to have been this very same Passover meal. Through the lens of Godís covenant relationship with the Israelites the full meaning of Jesusí Passion and death becomes clear. The Seder meal sets the stage for Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. It has been a way to help pull my family out of our secular culture and into the reality of Holy Week.
Sometimes, however, it is difficult if not impossible to get the family together for Holy Week services, especially with toddlers, or resistant teens.
If your family cannot attend the Triduum, you may want to consider a simple celebration at home. The examples below, one for each of the three holy days, can serve as starting points. Adapt them to fit the needs of your family.
Holy Thursday: Gather together and read John 13:1-15 aloud. For young families itís helpful to use a Bible written especially for children. Explain that in Jesusí time there were no sidewalks or paved streets. People wore sandals and their feet got very dirty and smelly from the dust and mud. Only a servant or slave would stoop to wash someone elseís feet. Ask the children how they might have reacted if they were the disciples whose feet Jesus washed. As a sign that you will try to serve one another in love like Jesus, have family foot washing ceremony.
Good Friday: Gather and light a number of candles, perhaps a dozen. Begin with prayer and then one by one speak aloud the sin in your family and in the world. For example: ďFor times we have been unkind to one another, times we have been untruthful; for violence, poverty, and racismÖĒ With each sin, blow out a candle until it is dark. (If youngsters are afraid of the dark, keep one dim light on in the background.) With a small flashlight to see, read Luke 23:27 and John 19:25, 38-40 aloud. Explain how, even though they may have been afraid, these few people stood with Jesus in the darkness. Talk about ways in which we can do that.
Holy Saturday: Boil eggs and prepare mugs of dye for coloring them. Drop an egg in the dye and remove it immediately. Ask the children why itís still white. Even little ones can probably guess. Return the egg to the dye. While the youngsters wait, perhaps stirring the egg in the cup, explain how this day is one of waiting. We wait for Jesus to rise from the dead. Read Matthew 20:17-24 out loud. Talk about how the disciples were not waiting on this day after Jesusí Crucifixion. They didnít understand that Jesus would rise. What difference did the Resurrection make in the lives of Jesusí disciples? Will it make a difference in our lives? Enjoy the beauty of the colored eggs, a small symbol of the wonderful change Easter brings to our world.
By planning ahead and making time to take part in the Triduum in the parish, or to gather at home to mark the days of Holy Week, you can help your family enter more fully into the Easter experience.
(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane freelance journalist and childrenís writer.)
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