What a weird Holy Week we are about to have. No Palm Sunday procession. No Chrism Mass. Priests and people separated from each other throughout the Triduum. The whole world seemingly living out an extended Sabbath, except for the increasing dependence on technology for communication. I wonder what seeds are being planted, what plants are going to grow, and what fruits will be harvested from this time.
Pope John Paul II, quoting Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, was fond of calling the family “the domestic church”. Pope Francis has also highlighted this reality. We might need to see the truth of this now in a special way. We will all have to be creative in how we participate in this most sacred of weeks. Each of us will have to pray, especially parents for their children, about how to help those around us enter into the mysteries. The familiar rhythm of, for example, Stations of the Cross followed by the Good Friday liturgy and then Tenebrae at the Cathedral is not available. So, what will we do instead?
This might be the chance to discover some sacred music. Perhaps some of the ancient chants that are associated with this week, or the hauntingly beautiful music of the Eastern churches, or even the grief-laden marches one hears in Seville at this time. Of course, Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion is worth spending time with. Maybe ring a friend who knows such things and get his or her advice.
Or you might prefer sacred art. We are blessed to have available to us online so much art, and so many teachers to help us understand. You might like to make a study of the historical development of different themes, depending on the day. Perhaps the depiction of Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem today, or the Last Supper, followed by the Crucifixion, Deposition and Pietà, and, finally, theResurrection. If I can barrack for one artist, Tintoretto’s Last Suppers and his majestic Crucifixion at the Scuola di San Rocco are great lessons. Or you might check the parish Instagram page for some of the treasures of our own church.
Whatever path you choose, I hope that each will lead you back to the gospels and to prayer. This is the heart of the matter: the Word of God speaking to us directly and our response in faith. Everything flows from here and everything flows back to here. This is the life of Christ. Make this a priority. Find time and space each day. And do not forget to pray together, for where two or three gather in his name, he is there in their midst. Let’s pray for each other.