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Education Service Article

Holy Week at Home

Not being physically at Mass can be incredibly distressing, particularly during Holy Week and yes, reading the readings at home is not the same as being at Mass. But this is such an important week for the Church that it’s vital we read them ourselves to recall what Jesus went through for us. It will also give us some semblance of normality.

You can find the readings in The CTS Holy Week Missal, which has everything you need for this holy week for just £7.95.

With all this extra time, we can draw closer to God by meditating on the readings. You can find helpful reflections by Scripture scholar Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB in The CTS Holy Week Missal, or you can just read it over a few times yourself prayerfully. Is there a particular theme, word, or sentence that strikes you? What is God trying to tell you? What must Jesus have felt?

Most of us would pray the Stations of the Cross at church with our parish, but now that’s not possible we can still do it at home. This is a really important devotion for Holy Week because then more than ever we need to meditate on Jesus’ Passion. We’ll be praying two Stations every day throughout Holy Week from St John Henry Newman on the Hozana prayer platform, and you can either get the stations by email or via the app/website.

If you prefer doing it offline, use one of our Stations of the Cross booklets or The CTS Holy Week Missal.

Most of us don’t have Confession available to us right now, but we can still examine our consciences at home and beg God’s forgiveness for them. Jesus died for our sins so the least we can do in return is be aware of them and come to him asking for mercy. It should be noted that this does not mean that mortal sins will be forgiven, however, and they should still be confessed to a priest in the sacrament of reconciliation at the soonest available opportunity. You can examine your conscience using one provided in The CTS Holy Week Missal, or use this Brief Examination of Conscience.

Whether you’re live-streaming at home or not, why not observe the rituals of the Triduum as part of a liturgy at home? On Maundy Thursday, someone can volunteer to have their feet washed and another to wash them, to emulate the humility of Jesus at the Last Supper.

On Good Friday, gather together at 3 pm, the time Jesus died, and using a crucifix you have at home, venerate it yourselves. When the Passion is read aloud on Good Friday, each part is often read by different people and this is something that can easily be done at home.

You might like to gather together everyone in your household on the evening of Holy Saturday to read all or some of the readings. If you have multiple candles in your home, everyone could light their own candle from the main one to imitate lighting candles from the Paschal Candle at the Easter Vigil. Later, ring a bell if you have one and challenge yourselves to sing the Exultet (the Easter proclamation).

Of course, to retain the meaning of these rituals they’re best done as part of a liturgy. The liturgy is split into four parts: Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist, Concluding Rites. Using a missal, you can incorporate these rituals into a liturgy which uses the Introductory Rites and Liturgy of the Word. For a breakdown of what is included in each part of the Mass, see this helpful guide from the US Bishops.

You may not find livestreaming Mass on a Sunday helpful, but we recommend doing it during Holy Week because the Masses and Good Friday service are so different and special. It’s helpful when live-streaming to set up some kind of “altar” e.g. with a crucifix and a Missal in front of the screen you’ll be streaming it on. Rather than sitting on the sofa, consider sitting on a hardback chair and using cushions as kneelers, to enter more prayerfully into Mass. Try not to do anything through it that you wouldn’t normally do in Mass – so don’t chat to your family, use your phone, eat, or come in your pyjamas. This video from the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph is a helpful guide on how to livestream.

You might prefer livestreaming with a religious order, so there is a congregation rather than just a priest. This makes it feel a bit more like Mass. Take a look at this schedule for options and follow the Mass from home with The CTS Holy Week Missal.

Okay, how do you go to adoration when the churches are closed and public worship is suspended? As with Mass, you can go to adoration online, for example at the Walsingham Shrine or at Tyburn Convent where they have perpetual adoration.

We really recommend spending some time in adoration this Holy Week, perhaps by yourself or with your household, and behave as you would during adoration at church, for example praying silently or reading Scripture. You can also sit there and talk to Jesus about how you feel about the lockdown, or about the pain of not being able to get to Mass in Holy Week, or ask Him to help you understand His Passion.

Jesus may not be physically present in your room in the same way, but He is physically present there behind the camera and He will not let the physical distance between you be a physical barrier.

Try our adoration resources for something to pray with during that time.

Easter during lockdown can still be full of celebration. While times may be tough, there is a great cause for celebration on Easter day. Even if we were told on Easter Sunday that coronavirus had miraculously disappeared overnight and that the lockdown was over, that celebration – while immense and an example of God’s glory – would still not be as wonderful as the celebration of our redemption on the day of resurrection.

Read the Easter Sunday Gospel, eat a special meal if possible, wear something special, give out Easter eggs if you normally do, and try to live joyfully on that day, in spite of whatever else is going on. If you’re struggling to find Easter joy, ask God to help you and He will surely oblige.

Live Holy Week at Home with
The CTS Holy Week Missal - £7.95

A People’s Missal for the laity containing Mass texts for all of Holy Week, plus additional material to assist in entering into this core liturgical time, including reflections from Dom Henry Wansbrough.


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