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8 Classic prayers to use during Holy Week

Pope Francis presides over the celebration of the Palm Sunday 2023

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

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Patricia Navas González - published on 03/26/24

A variety of prayers for praising Jesus, adoring the Eucharist, exalting the Cross, and uniting ourselves to God through the death and resurrection of his Son

Here is a selection of prayers you can use during Holy Week to help you go deeper into the events of our salvation.

1
HOSANNA!

Praise the Lord as the angels do (Isaiah 6:3), with the words (inspired by Psalm 118:26) that the crowds used to acclaim Jesus during his triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Mt 21:9). Catholics pray this acclamation at every Mass, and it’s possible that Jesus sang part of it during the Last Supper. 

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

2
Psalm 95: Harden not your hearts!

Adore the Lord with the words of Psalm 95. Many people do this daily during the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily prayer of the Church that marks the different hours of the day.

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice!
Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your ancestors tested me,
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they do not regard my ways.”
Therefore in my anger I swore,
“They shall not enter my rest.”

3
PANGE LINGUA

Adore the Eucharist with this hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas. This hymn resounds in many churches on Holy Thursday at the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our immortal King,
destined, for the world’s redemption,
from a noble womb to spring.

Of a pure and spotless Virgin
born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
then He closed in solemn order
wondrously His life of woe.

On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He the Pascal victim eating,
first fulfills the Law’s command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own hand.

Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.

Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o’er ancient forms departing,
newer rites of grace prevail;
faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble sense fail.

To the everlasting Father,
and the Son who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from Each eternally,
be salvation, honor, blessing,
might and endless majesty.

Amen. 

4
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Matthias_Grunewald – ukrzyżowanie – ołtarz w Isenheim

Speak to the Father with these words that Jesus shouted on the cross shortly before dying. They are the first words of Psalm 22, an agonizing cry that goes from anguish caused by persecution to trust in God and his salvation.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

Many bulls encircle me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shriveled;
I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.

5
THE DIVINE MERCY CHAPLET

Jezus Miłosierny

Ask God the Father for mercy, trusting in the saving Passion of his Son, with this meditative prayer given to the world through St. Faustina Kowalska. The tradition is to pray it at three o’clock in the afternoon, the time when Jesus died.

You can find full instructions on how to pray the Chaplet in this Aleteia article.

6
VIA CRUCIS

Stations of the Cross

Accompany Jesus on the Way of the Cross, reliving his passion and death. The traditional Via crucis covers 14 moments that took place in Jerusalem, from the Praetorium of Pilate to Calvary and the tomb.

There are countless sources that offer texts for these meditations, from brief reflections to longer papal ceremonies. You can pick the theme and format that works best for you.

7
STABAT MATER

Triptyque-de-Dreux-Bude-Andre-dYpres-Crucifixion.jpg

This medieval hymn by Jacopone da Todi focuses on the suffering of Mary at the foot of the cross, and helps us feel her sorrow. This memorable moment has been depicted in painting, sculpture, song, and cinema by many great artists.

1 At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

2 Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword has passed.

3 O how sad and sore distressed,
Was that Mother highly blest
Of the sole begotten One!

4 Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

5 Is there one who would not weep,
Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

6 Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?

7 Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

8 For the sins of his own nation
Saw him hang in desolation
Till his spirit forth he sent.

9 O thou Mother! Font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with thine accord.

10 Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

11 Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

12 Let me share with thee his pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torment died.

13 Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

14 By the cross with thee to stay;
There with thee to weep and pray,
All I ask of thee to give.

15 Virgin of all Virgins best!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share thy grief divine.

8
THE EASTER SEQUENCE

Jezus Chrystus

Celebrate Christ’s resurrection with this triumphant hymn which has been sung at Easter since the Middle Ages. It is recited or sung during the Easter Masses on Easter Sunday and throughout the following week.

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
offer sacrifice and praise.

The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb;
and Christ, the undefiled,
hath sinners to his Father reconciled.

Death with life contended: combat strangely ended!
Life’s own Champion, slain, yet lives to reign.

Tell us, Mary: say
what thou didst see upon the way.

The tomb the Living did enclose;
I saw Christ’s glory as He rose!

The angels there attesting;
shroud with grave-clothes resting.

Christ, my hope, has risen:
He goes before you into Galilee.

That Christ is truly risen
from the dead we know.
Victorious King, Thy mercy show!

Amen. Alleluia.

Tags:
Catholic PrayersDevotions and FeastsHoly Week
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