by Sister Diane Heiss, SDSH
Photo Detail of “Mystery of the Crucifixion and the Eucharist” by Isabel Piczek, Heart of Jesus Retreat Center Chapel © 1994 Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart
How often have we rejoiced in the birth of a family member, a dear one’s success, or the presence of a friend? How many loved ones have we worried about and prayed for during times of sickness, trouble, or loss? How often have we had to say the final good-bye to a loved one who was dying? All of these are a part of life, as summarized in the Book of Ecclesiastes (Eccl. 3: 1-8) and popularized well over 50 years ago by the Byrds’ song: Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season) Jesus, truly human as well as truly divine, was no exception to all of our human experiences except sin. In the Letter to the Hebrews, we read that Jesus can sympathize with us because he has been tested in every way, yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15). When the Fourth Eucharistic Prayer is used at Mass, we hear that Jesus was “a man like us in all things but sin.”
The holiest week of the Liturgical Year starts today with Palm Sunday. As baptized members of the Body of Christ, we have the special privilege of accompanying Jesus. Out of the many ways to be with him, we offer a few suggestions for private or family prayer and activities. May these spark your prayerful creativity of how to come and be with Jesus and keep him company in his final joys and sorrows.
PALM SUNDAY (or PASSION SUNDAY). Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph.
*Read the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem aloud: (Mt. 21:1-11, Mk 11:1-11, Lk 19:28- 40, or Jn 12:12-18). Perhaps the children might want to act this out.
*Go online for directions on how to weave palm branches into crosses and try it.
*Have a special family prayer together allowing each one to share successes and triumphs, and after each sharing conclude with “We thank and praise you, Jesus.”
HOLY THURSDAY. Jesus celebrates the Last Supper / First Mass with his apostles during the Passover Dinner.
*Find suggestions online for a traditional and a Christian celebration of the Passover and try one with your family.
You might want to include washing each other’s feet.
*Read chapters 3 to 12 of the Book of Exodus to learn more about the Passover (or Ex. 12: 1-12 for a summary).
*Watch the movie Moses, Prince of Egypt.
*Attend the evening Celebration of the Lord’s Supper and stay awhile to keep Jesus company at the Altar of Repose.
*Jesus said to his apostles “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” (Mt. 26: 38)
Spend some quiet time at night in prayer, simply to be with Jesus.
GOOD FRIDAY. Jesus offers his life on the cross out of a personal love for each of us.
*Attend the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion and/or the Stations of the Cross.
*Keep noon until 3:00 p.m. as a quiet time of prayer, remembering Jesus’ suffering and death.
HOLY SATURDAY. Jesus lies buried in the tomb.
*Decorate Easter Eggs which remind us of the new life of Our Risen Lord and/or make Easter cookies.
*Make Easter cards for sick or elderly family and friends.
*Make Easter baskets by weaving ribbons through strawberry baskets, adding Bible messages along with candy. *Attend the Easter Vigil and bring home holy water.
EASTER SUNDAY. Jesus rises from the dead.
*Attend Mass, rejoicing in the gift of eternal life gained for us by Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection.
*Have an Easter egg hunt using plastic eggs filled with Bible verses about God’s love, joy, and new life as well as candy. For help in finding quotes, in the internet search bar type “Bible quotes on God’s love” etc.
*Take a walk in a lovely area with spring flowers and thank Jesus for His limitless love for you.
FIFTY DAYS OF EASTER: Celebrate, celebrate, and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
JESUS LOVES YOU!