What is Holy Week all about?
I knew there was Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. But what about the rest of the week? Oh yeah, I’ve heard of Spy Wednesday somewhere before. But what do we do about Monday and Tuesday? Not to mention Saturday, the weirdest feeling day of the year, between Christ’s death and Resurrection.
Well, Fr. Mike shares a way to enter into every single day of Holy Week.
After I watched this video, I knew immediately what I was called to do.
This year, I’m going to pray and reflect on each and every single day of Holy Week and its significance. I’m going to make it the holiest of all weeks. No other week will be like it. I dedicate it, right now, to God, and beg Him to give me the graces I need to truly set this week apart for Him.
Won’t you pray along with me?
Tomorrow starts Holy Week.
An entire week set apart for God. How will this week be different from the 51 other weeks of the year? How will I devote it specially to God? What is one thing I can do, every day, to show God I am committed to walking this week alongside Him?
This week of salvation. This week of suffering in atonement for my sins.
One thing that will show Jesus I accept the guilt of my sinfulness. I appreciate the sacrifice He made just for me.
One thing that shows Him I’m standing by His side in the emotional ups and downs of this week.
My God, what one thing would lead me closer to You, will place me firmly on the path to holiness during this week?
Jesus, I commit myself to entering into Holy Week with resolve. This week will be different from any other week. I will offer one special daily sacrifice or devotion as a symbol of my commitment. Please give me fortitude to walk the journey of Holy week by your side. Amen.
Take a moment to reflect: What one thing do you commit to, to make this week holy: set apart from every other week of the year?
How will Holy Week be different from the 51 other weeks of the year? Tweet this.
Holy Week starts today with Palm Sunday. The crowds all gathered to greet Jesus as He processed into the city. It was a day of celebration. The streets were filled with cheering, and people’s hearts were filled with joy.
Jesus was flooded with praise and acceptance. But at the same time, He knew that there was tension and brokenness under the surface which would transform the shouts of “Hosanna” into cries of “Crucify him!” in a few short days.
He knew the hurt was coming.
But he didn’t hold hold back. He didn’t shy away. Because there’s a time for rejoicing and a time for sorrow.
Even through the ups and downs of life, we know that in the end good prevails. God will triumph.
Today, let us enter into the spirit of procession before the Lord. Let us walk before Him in praise and exaltation of His saving presence in our lives.
In your mind, approach God’s throne with your gifts in hand. All your talents, your virtues, the love in your heart, your good works and intentions. Lay them down at Jesus’ feet among the shouts of praise for the Lord.
Lift your voice in thanks for His generosity in giving you all these gifts.
All that is good in You, give it back to the Lord today. We know that our sins and weaknesses are hiding under the surface, but it’s not yet a time for sorrow. Today is a day of rejoicing.
Dear Jesus, I shout Hosanna before You today, my King, my Savior, my Messiah. I praise You for all that You are. I offer all that is good in me to You today, knowing You gave it to me first. Please accept my tribute in honor of Your kingship. Amen.
Take a moment to reflect: What gifts has the Lord given You? In a prayerful procession of thanks and praise, give glory to God and offer these gifts back to Him today.
Even through the ups and downs of life, we know that in the end good prevails, God will triumph. Tweet this.
Today we remember when Mary poured an entire jar of expensive aromatic nard on Jesus’ feet in an extravagant display of her love and devotion to Him.
She did this in the middle of dinner, with other people around. Her public display was subject to the scorn of others, specifically Judas.
He attempted to shame her by saying the ointment should have been sold and the money given to the poor.
But Jesus told him to back off.
Her display of love clearly meant a lot to him.
Today, let’s emulate the extravagance that touched Jesus’ heart so much.
Be extravagant in your love for others, especially for your family. Make a special dinner. Give your spouse a longggg hug. Tell your kids how much you love them. Do something special for your mom or dad.
Be extravagant in your virtues. Practice patience like you never have before. Use that calm, gentle voice no matter what kind of shenanigans your kids pull today. Make an extra display of generosity (Haiti180 is looking for more team members to support their mission). Go overboard in treating others like little Christs.
Be extravagant in your forgiveness. If somebody is really pushing your buttons, make an extra effort to let it go. Treat her kindly. Go out of your way to let her know you’re forgiving her and moving on with your life. Heck, invite her over to hang out this afternoon.
Extravagance is the word today. Take it to heart.
Pour that aromatic nard all over the place.
Jesus has your back.
Dear Jesus, help me go overboard in my love for others today. In practicing virtue. In offering forgiveness. I do it all for You, my Savior. Help me not to worry about what anyone else thinks. Through my extravagance, I wish only to honor You and show you my love. Amen.
Take a moment to reflect: How can you imitate Mary in her extravagance today? What show of love or forgiveness waits to be poured out on others? Look for opportunities to do more all day long.
Be extravagant in love and forgiveness today. Pour that aromatic nard all over the place. Tweet this.
From Compulsion to Completion Tuesday
Something’s been weighing heavy on Jesus’ heart all week. God the Father has been speaking to Him, calling Him to endure something difficult in His life. And in today’s readings Jesus finally clues in the Apostles.
“One of you will betray me.”
On the sly, He confides in John the beloved Apostle that Judas is the betrayer. Jesus turns to Judas, and tells him to get on with it quickly.
At that moment, Jesus expresses His eagerness to embrace the Father’s will for Him. He’s not excited for it, but He’s embraced the course God calls Him to. He’s resolved to see this thing through, and to find the Father’s hand in it, too.
“Now is the Son of man glorified, and in Him God is glorified.”
When I think of glorifying God, I think of songs and angels and streets of gold and a shimmering light in the air. It’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. It gives me warm fuzzies.
But God is glorified in the ugly too.
He’s glorified in the suffering.
He’s glorified when we embrace our crosses.
When we willingly take up our hardships. When we look for His hand in the difficult moments. When we trust in Him to bring good out of our worst days.
Today, listen for God’s call in your life. Is He asking you to endure something ugly? Something difficult, and maybe seemingly impossible?
Maybe it’s an illness. Maybe it’s a financial burden. Maybe it’s the daily struggle of parenting littles and trying to hold on to your sanity.
Usher it in, like Jesus did.
Tell God to get on with it. Glorify Him too, because He will bring good out of this somehow.
And like Jesus, don’t try to go it alone. Confide in a dear friend. Let them walk with you, comfort you, even if they don’t fully understand what you’re going through.
God my Father, I feel the compulsion you’ve placed on my heart. The call to pick up my cross and carry it along the hard road. Today, I embrace that call. I resolve to carry my cross to completion. I am eager to enter into the suffering, if only for Your glory. I trust you to bring good out of this, to raise me up again after I’ve been beaten down. Be there with me every step of the way, and let me never lose sight of You. Amen.
Take a moment to reflect: What difficult thing is God calling you to endure today? How can you embrace the call? How can you carry your cross eagerly for the glory of God like Jesus did?
Today, listen for God’s call. Is He asking you to endure something ugly? Usher it in like Jesus did. Tweet this.
Wednesday: The Day of Aloneness
Sometimes we feel so alone.
Throughout Jesus’ Passion, we see Him experience loneliness. He was betrayed by one of His best friends, and denied three times by another. He brought Peter James and John with Him to keep Him company in the Garden, but they couldn’t keep their eyes open. He cried out to God from the Cross, “Why have You abandoned me?”
There was another man feeling alone during that first Holy Week. Judas, after he betrayed Jesus, felt convicted of his sinfulness. He turned to the church leaders, but they had no compassion for him. In his aloneness, he despaired and committed suicide.
Where Judas despaired, Jesus reached out. He asked his friends to hang out with Him and pray for Him. He sought comfort in His angel. He prayed to the Father even with His dying breath.
Are you feeling alone right now?
Maybe you’re going through a breakup. Or a loved one has passed away. You might be suffering from depression. Or you feel like no one understands the troubles you’re going through. Perhaps you’re a mom surrounded by children all day, and are thirsting for intelligent adult conversation. Or you could feel cut off from grace as the result of sin.
Whatever the cause, we face a choice before us.
We can withdraw into our loneliness and allow it to suffocate us. But this is bad for our spiritual and mental health, and can result in even more hurt – as we see in Judas.
Or we can reach out like Jesus did. We can turn to our friends for comfort and support. If we find that they’re sleeping, or emotionally unavailable, we can turn our eyes heavenward. We can speak to our guardian angels, who are always here by our side. We can call out to God in prayer.
Even if we don’t feel God’s presence, we know through the eyes of faith that He’s still here beside us.
Reach out past your loneliness today.
Dear Jesus, You had faith and hope even in Your darkest moment. You didn’t stop crying out for connection through your time of loneliness. Today, I unite my feelings of aloneness to Yours. I choose not to despair. Instead, I will reach out for help, for support, for grace. Help me know You are by my side. Amen.
Take a moment to reflect: Are you feeling alone today? Cut of from friends, or separated from God? How can you reach out to restore relationships and build connections?
Today, Jesus, I unite my feelings of aloneness to Yours. I choose not to despair. Tweet this.
Thursday: Body Given
With Catholic churches around every corner, and at least five different options for daily Mass, I’m sad to admit I sometimes lose my sense of awe and wonder about the Holy Eucharist. I take it for granted.
Let today be different.
Today, over two thousand years ago, Jesus did the unthinkable. The miraculous. The scandalous.
He gave us His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity to be our food.
Given to us as a free gift.
Jesus held nothing back. He gave His entire being. And not just to look at, to hold, to treasure, but to consume. He becomes a part of us. We’re no longer separate, but joined together as one.
Kinda like marriage.
The two become one. But the two become one because of the giving. Am I giving of myself? And not just as a gift to look at, to hold, to treasure, though these things are good too. Not just giving my time through chores. Not just giving my energy. Not just giving my service.
But my whole self.
Am I a gift?
God created each of us to be a gift to others. A gift to our spouse, our kids, our family, our friends, strangers we meet at the grocery store.
We can be a gift to them by giving our attention, our empathy, our compassion so fully that we become a part of them. Our presence becomes an integral part of their life story.
Dear Jesus, help me to give myself fully today. Help me give my time, my attention, my care, my smile, my heart, and all that I am as a gift for others. Following the example You gave on Holy Thursday at the Last Supper, I hold nothing back. Amen.
Take a moment to reflect: Have you thanked Jesus recently for the unrestrained gift of self He gives to you in the Holy Eucharist? Take a moment to do so today. How can you be a gift to others today, fully and completely? Make that your goal for the entire day.
Jesus did the unthinkable, the miraculous, the scandalous. He gave us His Body to be our food. Tweet this.
On Good Friday, the omnipotent (all-powerful) God allowed Himself to become impotent (powerless).
At any moment, Jesus could have raised His eyes to Heaven and said to the Father: “I’m sick of these sinners. Smite them.” And Jerusalem goes up in a ball of flames – another Sodom and Gomorrah. Justice is served.
But sometimes injustices are better combated with mercy. My pastor said once that self-defense is a right that can be given up to serve a better good. And that’s exactly what Jesus did on Good Friday.
He had every right to call down legions of angels to stop His arrest. He could have wowed Pilate with a spectacular sermon on truth. He could have come down from the Cross as onlookers goaded Him to.
But Jesus relinquished that power over His own fate. He handed Himself over to the betrayers. He stood silent before Pilate and all His false accusers. He allowed Himself to be nailed to the cross and put to death. He embraced the powerlessness.
Sometimes we feel powerless in life. Sickness ruins our plans and crushes our goals. Financial burdens threaten our peace and our security. A loved one betrays us. Our children defy our rules and don’t respond to our discipline.
We’re so powerless.
We rail against the helpless feeling. We scream and withdraw and overeat and binge-watch Netflix. We fight the loss of control. We long to defend ourselves.
But it’s time to turn over the reigns. Embrace the powerlessness. Let God take control. It may mean suffering, a walk through the valley of death. But fear not, Jesus has been there first and we know what’s waiting on the other side.
God my Father, I often feel so powerless in my life. I long for the ability to put all my ducks in a row. But life is crazy and messy and unpredictable. Today, I turn it all over to You. You are all powerful, You can take care of all my worries. I’m just going to keep plugging along on my Way of the Cross. I’m counting on You to carry me through the darkness of my suffering to the hope on the other side. Amen.
Take a moment to reflect: In what areas of your life are you feeling powerless today? How can you let go of the need for control and turn Your troubles over to God?
God my Father, I often feel so powerless in my life. Today, I turn it all over to You. Tweet this.
Saturday: Night all Day
Today is the weirdest day of the entire year.
Jesus is gone. Crucified. Murdered. Buried.
God is dead.
Imagine what it was like for the Apostles on that first Holy Saturday. All their hopes and dreams were crushed. The man they thought was going to be their Savior was put to death like a criminal.
And they were utterly alone.
The light was sucked out of their lives and they were plunged into utter darkness.
Once, I tried to stop in a Eucharistic Adoration chapel on Holy Saturday, only to realize… Jesus wasn’t there. He’s not in our churches. There’s no Mass today. There’s no Holy Communion. There’s no comfortable glow of the sanctuary lamp.
It’s like the Resurrection never happened. We’re stuck in the moment when Satan won the battle, when evil conquered good.
And it’s so dark. So scary.
Imagine how freaked out the apostles were. They didn’t know Jesus would rise from the dead. They didn’t know He would overcome evil.
We know their fear and hopelessness.
Every would-be mom who waits for that little plus sign. Every unemployed husband searching for a job. Every suffering patient praying for a cure for cancer. Every parent who’s ever lost a child.
Every one of us has had a moment of darkness. A time when we feel like God is dead. He has abandoned us. There is no hope. Evil has won.
Today, cry out to God in your pain. Let it all loose. Enter into the darkness that was this day 2000 years ago.
Tomorrow, we know Jesus will return in splendor and glory and light.
But today, all is darkness.
Let yourself feel it.
My Jesus, today I enter in to the darkness the apostles felt on the first Holy Saturday. I cry out to You, “Where are You?” I beg You, “Please, show me Your hand in my life!” I plead with You, “Answer my prayers!” I don’t know what’s coming in my life. All I know is that today, the light is gone. And I need it back. Amen.
Take a moment to reflect: When have You felt like God has been silent in your life? How can you search for God in your darkness? Don’t be afraid to be real, tell God how alone you feel.
Tomorrow, we know Jesus will return in splendor and glory and light. But today, all is darkness. Tweet this.
Nobody saw it coming.
They lived through the darkness, and couldn’t see a way out. The door to their hope was closed, sealed, and guarded.
The women went back to the tomb on Sunday morning to find closure: to anoint the body of Jesus before leaving Him to His final rest. To their shock and amazement, Jesus was ALIVE!
This changed everything.
Some were quick to believe, others were slow to catch on. But once they accepted the truth, their lives would never be the same. Their world was turned upside down.
Their eyes were opened.
They recognized Jesus standing before them.
God. Is. So. Good.
When we think all hope is lost, God finally does the unexpected. He pulls through with miracles beyond our imagination.
Jesus rises in our lives today. When we feel we can’t go on anymore, when we’ve lost everything, when we’re plunged into darkness, that’s His time to shine. That’s when He does the unexpected.
He showers us with blessings beyond our wildest dreams.
If only we would open our eyes to see.
Dear Jesus, sometimes I’m slow to recognize your blessings. But You’re performing miracles right before my eyes. Open my eyes so I may see. Let me recognize Your presence and all the ways You’re changing my life. Today I praise You for drawing me out of the darkness into the light of hope. Amen.
Take a moment to reflect: What miracles is God working in your life today? Allow yourself a moment to step out of fear and anxiety and into the hope of the Resurrection.
Jesus rises in our lives today. When we’re plunged into darkness, that’s His time to shine. Tweet this.
Stay tuned, a new reflection will be added to this post each day of Holy Week!