Holy Week – Being With
Last Sunday was Palm Sunday. I referred in my igNation post to an image offered to us by Pope Benedict XVI. He described Palm Sunday as “the great doorway leading into Holy Week,” the week when the Lord Jesus makes his way toward the culmination of his earthly existence and journeys through the greatest mysteries of human life.
In my experience of accompanying people making the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, their prayer on the suffering, death and Resurrection of Jesus is often very simple. The need for words from the spiritual director becomes less necessary.
First of all, we know the story of Jesus in the time leading up to his death. Also, if we allow ourselves to dwell on it, we are powerfully aware of the relevance to the mysteries in our own personal lives (our family, friends, work situations, and so on) and in the life of the men and women on the face of the earth, and, indeed, in the earth itself.
The Third Week of the Exercises invites people to be with Jesus in his suffering and dying; the Fourth Week is an invitation to be with Jesus in his joy. The emphasis is on the grace of being with. Let’s try to be with this Holy Week in a focused way.
I’ve always been envious of people who take the entire Holy Week to pray and just be with the mysteries of the week. Most of us are probably too busy to spend all of our time in Holy Week in the manner we’d like. How can we heighten our sense of being immersed with the suffering, death and Resurrection of Jesus?
As a basic entry, let’s follow along with the scripture and prayers in a missalette. Or, let’s try to actually attend the various liturgies this week. It’ll be difficult to find enough space in most churches. Go early, if possible, and find space. The liturgies include carefully selected scripture readings and powerful rituals (the Washing of Feet, the Veneration of the Cross, Baptism, people entering more fully into the Christian community during the Easter Vigil, and so on).
- Read the selections in the Office of Readings. Or, select a favourite spiritual book.
- Sit with the daily posts on igNation or other resources from the internet
- There will be beautiful seasonal hymns and music on radio – the CBC and local classical stations. It’s not difficult to find televised Masses. Join along with Pope Francis from Rome
- Scripture: the telling and re-telling of the Passion story, the Suffering Servant hymns, the history of salvation as heard in the scriptures at the Easter Vigil.
- Continue to read the newspapers and to watch the news. But, be attentive to how the mysteries of suffering, death and new life are seen in the world.
- Be aware of the sights and smells of this week – beeswax, incense, fresh flowers
Whatever you do, make sure that this sacred week is unique to your experience.