“So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through His own blood. Therefore let us go forth to Him outside the camp, and share His degradation…. Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name”.
The Letter to the Hebrews 13:12-15
From Sunday we enter Holy Week, and this year we do so under these unique, strange and frightening circumstances. Holy Week is always a treasure, for in living it we grow closer to the Heart of Jesus in a real and particular way. That is why we celebrate Holy Week the way we do. This year we can turn adversity to advantage. We can treasure Holy Week all the more, and live it together in a way that will feed us and all the Church in a grace-filled way. Yes, we cannot participate in the great ceremonies – but remember how this is true each year of many of our brothers and sisters around the world. How lucky we usually are! But we can do what is most important:
- We can walk with Jesus. We can keep Him company and console Him. In following the scriptures, by praying the prayers we truly accompany Him in the hours of His Passion. We become more actually His friend, which is the purpose of our lives and of our worship. This will be our focus from Palm Sunday to late on Maundy Thursday.
- We can do our job as the Church. Our job is to bring the world to its Redeemer. We can pray for all the needs of the world and we can sanctify time itself. This we do in our conduct of all the week, and especially joining in the solemn prayers of Good Friday and in our contemplation of the Cross.
- We can make of ourselves a worthy dwelling place for God the Holy Spirit, by making a profound examination of conscience and an act of penance and contrition, especially in the quiet hours of Holy Saturday. We resolve too to come to sacramental Reconciliation as soon as circumstances allow.
- We can renew our faith and the grace of our Baptism in the proclamation of Easter, that Christ is truly risen, and by renewing the vows of our Baptism at the Vigil of Easter and on Easter Sunday. We ask the risen Lord to enable us to show that faith to the world in any possible way.
Our recommendation is to follow the live streaming from Westminster Cathedral so that we can be united in prayer with our bishop.
Palm Sunday: Mass is offered in each church at 10am. In your time of worship study the Passion Gospel and the Gospel of Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem. (Palm crosses will be blessed, in line with instructions from the Archbishops, so that they can be available to the faithful at a later date, when it is safe to travel.)
Holy Thursday: The Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be offered in each church at 7pm. The Archbishops then encourage us to spend time in adoration, watching and praying with the Lord. If you can watch on-line, St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham will be the focus of national coverage of Watching on Holy Thursday: www.stchadscathedral.org.uk. You might also visit Tyburn Convent live stream. https://adoration.tyburnconvent.org.uk/ In Jesus’ agony in the garden, let us pray in solidarity with all in hospital, the staff and patients. (During this time Fr James and Fr Tom will join the priests of the diocese in renewing the vows of priestly service.) The readings for Mass can be found here. Fr Tom’s homily can be found here.
Good Friday: The liturgy of Good Friday will be offered in each church at 3pm. Pope Francis has added a particular prayer to the Solemn Prayers, that you may like to add in to the prayers. (Unveil your crucifix at home and make an act of veneration. Make the Stations of the Cross during the day.) Fr Tom’s homily can be found here.. The Readings for the Good Friday and the The Solemn Intercessions are both available for use.
Holy Saturday: The Vigil of Easter will be celebrated in each church at 8pm. Read the full set of readings of the history of salvation. Have a particular candle set aside to light in praise of the Resurrection. Renew your baptism vows. Fr James’ Easter homily can be found here.
Easter Sunday: Mass will be offered in each church at 10am. Despite the circumstances pray joyfully in thanksgiving and trust. (Our worship on Easter Sunday should be marked by singing – choose an Easter hymn and sing loudly!)
Some practical ideas of things to do:
- Make a timetable for Holy Week, for times of worship, and for the prayer intentions you will bring to each act of worship and devotion.
- Prepare a prayer corner or altar, and enthrone there your bible, and a crucifix, covered over for now, but to be unveiled on Good Friday. Perhaps write down the intentions and people for whom you are praying and put these on the table.
- Have access to the texts of the Holy Week liturgies.
- Pray the Stations of the Cross each day.
- On Holy Saturday night, add images of the saints and light a candle (safely) to your prayer table.
- Use online streaming resources for the liturgies and adoration.
Here are some liturgies to use at home for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday (use with The Solemn Intercessions) and Easter Day
The Diocese of Phoenix in the US has put together a wonderful resource for Holy Week, which contains links for lots of things to use at home.
- Maybe make your own poster to put in your window to tell the world what is happening.
“Marking time”: Usually “marking time” has come to be an expression that we use to mean watching time go by unused, or wasted. Not so. We NEED to mark time, and this special time of Holy Week in particular. Use it well, whatever else is going. Know that the Lord, as He carries His cross, carries all the stresses and strains of this time. He needs us to help Him. We need Him to bring us to the truth, that He is the Resurrection and He is life.