This week, Christians celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in a special way. Above all holidays, this week is the most central to Christian life. Here are 10 ways you can observe and celebrate Holy Week!
- Serve someone in need.
Pope Francis has declared this the Year of Mercy so that all may “grow stronger and more effective” in mercy. Like the Good Samaritan in the gospel, we show mercy when we decide not to walk past someone in need. This exemplifies the life of Jesus.
Example: Help serve a community meal at First Presbyterian Church in Leavenworth or in Kansas City Kansas with USM students. Meet at 4pm on Tuesday or 9:30am on Saturday respectively in the Office of Campus Ministry. Contact S. Rejane Cytacki (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Read the Gospel.
This is a great practice for Holy Week and a great way to revisit stories and words with which you might be familiar and others with which you might not be familiar.
Example: Take an hour and read the Gospel of Mark from beginning to end reflecting on this question: how are the followers of Jesus continually challenged in the Gospel? OR Spend twenty minutes each night reading the Gospel of Luke reflecting on this question: who are the poor in the Gospel of Luke and how does Jesus serve them?
- Celebrate with a worshiping community.
Many Christian churches come together to celebrate on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter), Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil (Saturday night), and Easter Sunday. This is a great way to experience the richness of these holy days and share them with others.
Example: The Sisters of Charity are celebrating Holy Week in 2016 with the following services in Ross Chapel (Mother house) open to any in the USM community: Holy Thursday 7:00pm, Good Friday 3:00pm, Easter Vigil 7:30pm Saturday, Easter Sunday 10:00am.
- Visit someone who needs a visitor.
Show love and appreciation to someone who needs it. This could be a family member or friend you haven’t seen in a while, someone who is sick, or perhaps someone in prison.
Example: Visit Sisters of Charity in Ross Hall with students from Rotoract Club. Meeting in the office of campus ministry at 3:15pm on Thursday March 24th.
- Plant a seed.
Planting a tree, flower, or other plant is a beautiful symbol of resurrection used by Jesus in the gospel. The seed “dies” to become something new-a beautiful work of God’s creation. This beauty reminds us of the need to care for our common home.
Example: Plant a tree in your yard at home OR go to a local park and find a tree or flower-spend some time appreciating it and the gifts it brings to our world.
- Fast (and “slow”!)
Fasting is the practice of abstaining from something (food, smoking, etc.) in order to set the mind toward something else. That is why fasting should always be accompanied by “slowing”- taking some time to refocus on what is important.
Example: On Good Friday, give up eating between meals. When you find yourself wanting to grab a snack, think about something good in your life and express thanks for it.
- Enjoy sacred art, music, film or literature.
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus has been explored in many and varied ways through the arts. Experiencing these works of art opens our minds and hearts to new meaning of age old themes.
Example: Go with a friend to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art to contemplate and discuss sacred art and other art as well.
- Give to a charity.
We often think about giving to a charity or cause we support, but we often forget to do so unless the opportunity is right in front of us. Take some time during holy week to take that initiative and give to an important cause.
Example: Grab a CRS rice bowl from campus ministry to put in your home or office for loose change. Proceeds will be sent from campus ministry to Catholic Relief Services.
The gospels are filled with moments where Jesus goes off alone to pray or prays with the disciples. There are many ways to pray. Reserve some time in the morning, noon, afternoon, or night just for prayer. Discover how you pray best and how to make prayer a part of your life.
Example: Set a chair or location in your home where you will go for ten minutes when you get up and before you go to sleep. Speak a prayer aloud or quietly, read a sacred text, write in a journal, or simply rest in silence.
- Spend some time with family and friends.
The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is a story of life in its fullness. Do something fun with family or friends over this holy week to share good memories and reconnect.
Example: Invite friends or family to dinner. Find a moment to express to each person something about him/her that you appreciate and for which you are grateful.