It seems almost impossible to believe that in just a few hours, with Evening Prayer tonight, Holy Week begins. Today we need to pause and ask ourselves the annual question:
How will we make this week holy? How will this week be lived differently from the other 51 weeks of the year?
In many countries people have some cultural assistance, schools are closed and the entire week is a kind of national holiday. Here in the US we must take personal responsibility for observing the holiness of the week. Today is a chance to look at each day make some choices about how we will spend our time differently.
Tomorrow the Church celebrates the combined Palm/Passion Sunday. We begin by marking Jesus's entry into Jerusalem and this year we will read the Passion according to St. Luke.
Monday here in the Diocese of Richmond we will celebrate the Chrism Mass at our Cathedral at 6 PM. This is the mass at which the priests renew the promises made at their ordination, and the Bishop blesses/consecrates the oils that are used for sacraments throughout the following year.
Tuesday and Wednesday there are no unique celebrations but it is still important for each of us to look for ways of living our faith more deeply. Perhaps instead of television or internet we spend more time on each of these days reading the scriptures and praying, meditating on what those days leading up to his crucifixion must have been like for Jesus. Perhaps daily mass is not part of your routine, but should be for Holy Week. And even if you can't make it to daily mass, perhaps it would at least be good to stop by Church on these days and pray.
Holy Thursday we gather in our parishes to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper.
Good Friday we recall The Passion of the Lord. On this day we always read the Passion according to St. John.
Holy Saturday we spend the day in quiet reflection, recalling the time our savior spent in the tomb. And after dark we come together for The Great Easter Vigil.
Easter Sunday we conclude our Holy Week celebrating that day when Jesus rose from the dead.
One week out of 52 each year the Church asks us to step back from the ordinary, the mundane, the routine and concentrate on the Holy. God became incarnate, suffered and died on a cross to free us and give us eternal life. It seems to me the least we can do, is stop and choose how we will dedicate this week to HIM.