How the Phoenix diocese is helping families celebrate Holy Week at home
.- Holy Week this year is going to look different for almost every Catholic in the United States.
On Palm Sunday, people will wave last year’s palms, or this year’s pine branches, or, if they’re lucky, palms from their parish, from the confines of their home instead of the pews of their parish. On Holy Thursday, feet will be washed by a family member, or not at all. For the veneration of the Cross, Catholics will kiss their personal crucifixes instead of lining up to kiss the crucifix at their parish. Candle-lit Easter Vigils will be celebrated by solitary priests livestreaming Mass from empty chapels.
It’s going to be different, and it’s going to be hard. That’s why a group of priests and laypeople at the Diocese of Phoenix compiled “A Journey Through Holy Week for Families”, an online flipbook resource to guide Catholic families through celebrating Holy Week from their homes.
“We had a meeting last week…specifically about Holy Week and how to enter into Holy Week knowing that we couldn’t have public Masses at this time,” Fr. John Parks, the Vicar for Evangelization for the Diocese of Phoenix, told CNA. “We just thought – what are ways that we could really strengthen the family and invite the family to pray as the domestic Church?” he said.
“You’re not going to be able to see the washing of the feet at Mass. So can we include a little rite from home that a family could do the washing the feet of their family members?” Parks said.
“Or on good Friday, again, you can’t see or experience the veneration of the Cross at Mass, could we equip a family to do a little veneration of the Cross from home?”
After the brainstorming session, Parks’ colleague compiled all the readings, prayers and resources into a 150 page online “flipbook” for families. The books covers the Mass readings as well as prayers and other liturgically-themed activities from Palm Sunday through the Triduum and Easter Sunday, as well as the readings and resources for Divine Mercy Sunday, which comes eight days after Easter.
The online book includes links to videos that include everything from livestream Masses from St. Mary’s Cathedral in Phoenix to talks by Bishop Robert Barron to recordings of songs to sing during prayer time at home.
It also includes links to recipes, virtual pilgrimages, coloring pages for kids, a guide to cut out palms from green construction paper, and a Holy Thursday puppet show script.
“There is so much…there’s all these different activities and songs you can play. So my only fear that it’d be a little overwhelming. But we’re trying to tell parents, just pick two or three things and have a little game plan for the day,” he said.
“So it’s like reading a playbook for sports – they don’t run every play, you just pick the play that you think will help your team, so that’s what we’re thinking of.”
Parks said while he understands that this Holy Week will be different than what families are used to experiencing, he thinks that this is a special time of grace for families, who are acting as the domestic Church.
“I really believe that God is pouring out a grace now to strengthen the domestic Church in the family. And that there’s a great thing poured out specifically for parents, to live deeper in their natural authority that they have over their children, to make them saints and to help them,” he said.
“This little book, it’s like ‘ut vadat tecum’, in Latin, ‘to go with’ you. It goes with you. It’s a tool that we hope to put in the hands of parents and pastors to help them equip families to walk through this week,” he said.
“That would be my desire, is that even though people can’t participate in public liturgies, there’s still a way to participate, to a lesser degree of course, but from the home. And I think for some families that might be unique. They’ve never done a washing of the feet. They’ve venerated the Cross. They’ve never prayed the Stations of the Cross in their own home. It can be a really beautiful moment of experiencing holy things in the home.”