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How to make Holy Week special at home

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There are plenty of ways to honor these sacred days without ever leaving your house!

Holy Week and Easter feel so different this year, without being able to go to church and take part in the liturgies like we do every year. Thankfully, we can still be present to the liturgy from our own homes.

The “liturgy” means “the participation of the People of God in ‘the work of God,'” the Catechism tells us (1069). “Through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church.” When we participate in prayer and the liturgical seasons from our homes, we spiritually unite ourselves to the Church throughout the world, and to the ongoing redemption God is working in all of our lives.

So how can we participate in the universal prayer of the Church? The absolute best way is through praying the Divine Office, also called the Liturgy of the Hours or the Work of God. This might be as simple as praying the Mass readings for each day, or you might choose to make time for morning and evening prayer (Lauds and Matins) or any of the minor hours as well.

If you only do one thing this Holy Week, read the Mass readings every day and spend some time praying with them. If you have children, read these Scriptures to them, perhaps with a candle lit, and spend a little time talking about what you’ve read.

FAMILY PRAYING
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Immersing yourself and your family in God’s Word through the universal prayer of the Church is the priority. The story told in Scripture is enough. Even if you don’t do a single craft or activity, when it comes down to it, making sure that you and your children know the story is all that matters.

That said, there are tons of clever ways to bring to life the salvation story in your home! You’ll want to check out the site Catholic Icing, which is a treasure trove of creative activities to teach the faith at home, and this detailed Holy Week at Home plan created by Katherine Bogner, a Director of Religious Education, and this plan written by Father Michael J. Callaghan, C.O. The Diocese of Phoenix has produced this gorgeous and thorough guide to celebrating the liturgies at home, Catholic Family Crate has a downloadable kit, and if you have kids ages 5-12, check out the creative and fun ideas over at Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure. Here are some of our favorite ideas.

Palm Sunday

Make your own “palms” out of green construction paper (or use backyard plants if you have some that would work!) and parade with them around your home.

Wear red, the liturgical color of the day.

GIRL READING A BOOK
PEXELS

Create art of the Palm Sunday donkey and palms, like this footprint donkey and handprint palms craft from Catholic Icing.

Enjoy “Palm Sundaes” with ice cream, another great idea from Catholic Icing.

Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week

Build a model of the city of Jerusalem and walk your kids through the events of Christ’s Passion.

Pretzels are traditionally a Lenten food, and now’s a great time to make them with your kids and discuss their history and symbolism.

Spy Wednesday

Did you know Wednesday of Holy Week is called Spy Wednesday, because on this day Judas made a bargain to betray Jesus for 30 silver pieces?

One way to honor this day is to hide 30 pieces of “silver” for your kids to hunt, and you can watch this idea in action over at Catholic All Year.

Read the Scriptures for the day, and talk about why decisions shouldn’t be made with greed, but with generosity and kindness.

If you haven’t yet this Lent, or even if you have, this is the perfect day to give alms. An act of charity is a wonderful counterpoint to Judas’s act of selfishness.

Holy Thursday

In imitation of Our Lord, you and your family can wash each other’s feet.

“Maundy Thursday” was traditionally a day for cleaning the whole house in preparation for Easter festivities. You might want to pick one small cleaning task for today.

CLEANING
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Save an old egg carton for this Last Supper craft.

This day, when the Eucharist was instituted, is an especially strong reminder of what we are missing without access to the Mass. Live-streaming Mass online would be fitting, as would praying in thanksgiving for God’s gift of Himself through the Blessed Sacrament, and for our reuniting with Him to come soon.

In the evening, you might light 7 candles and pray the traditional Tenebrae service (prayers can be found here).

Good Friday

Praying the Stations of the Cross is the traditional way to honor this day.

A great way to get kids engaged is to have them draw each of the Stations, and this serves a practical purpose as your family can use these for prayer today. The youngest kids can make this watercolor craft of the Crucifixion.

This is a day of fasting. If you are able to spend part of the day in quiet prayer and contemplation, the ideal time is between noon and 3 p.m., when Christ hung on the cross.

If you have purple cloth or tissue paper, you might cover religious images and statues in your home, to be unveiled on Easter.

Venerate a crucifix: Each member of the household can kiss the image of Our Lord while praying “We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”

Construct a simple “tomb” out of construction paper or blocks and place Jesus in the tomb, either a peg doll or this Crucifix craft found at Catholic Icing.

Traditionally on this day, hot cross buns are made, and either eaten or saved for Holy Saturday.

HOT CROSS BUNS
Catt | Flickr CC by NC ND 2.0

Older kids will learn a lot from putting on a performance of the Passion for the rest of the family, or “Living Stations” in which they pose as characters in each Station.

Holy Saturday

Lead a procession with lights at the time you’d normally go to Easter Vigil.

Older kids can act as news reporters to either make a pretend newspaper or film a “news program” of the Passion events and Easter. This is a great way for them to understand and remember what happened.

Many Catholics observe the tradition of going to seven churches on this day, often praying two Stations of the Cross at each one. This year, you might look up images of seven beautiful churches around the world and pray Stations of the Cross.

Easter Sunday and the Easter Octave

He is Risen! It’s time for egg hunts, Easter baskets, and all the other Easter fun.

Easter hymns are glorious and joyful. Sing some of them together with your family. You might even want to learn a new one each day of Easter week.

Choose a time each day during the week of Easter to light a candle and pray together, thanking God for His Passion and Resurrection, by which He made it possible for us to gain eternal life.

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Make resurrection rolls or Easter story cookies with your family.

If you put purple cloths on religious images, take them off today, and perhaps drape some white cloth on crucifixes to symbolize the Resurrection.

If you constructed a tomb on Good Friday, take Jesus out of tomb.

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