With Palm Sunday only days away, we are quickly approaching the end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. So what can we do to prepare our hearts and minds to enter into this sacred time?
Relevant Radio® contributor Father Gerry Murray stopped by Morning Air® to discuss Holy Week, and how we can prepare to make the most of it.
Perhaps you’re ready to write off Holy Week because you haven’t been particularly diligent about observing Lent up to now. But Fr. Murray encouraged us not to give in to discouragement, but to make the best use of the time we still have.
“Living Lent well means doing it day by day. And if we’re not satisfied with our performance up to now, we still have these days ahead of us,” he said. “So don’t flag, don’t let it slip away. Excuse making is probably the thing we’re all experts at, but now is the time to say, ‘If I made a resolution, let me live it.'”
There are many ways you can dive into Lent, even if you’re just starting during Holy Week. Father Murray gave a few examples, saying, “If I need to pray more, if I need to make a good Confession, if I need to donate some money to the Church or the poor – those are all ways that we can put this Lent back on track.”
But whether your Lent has been meaningful or mediocre, Holy Week offers us all a chance to enter into the Paschal Mystery, especially during the Triduum. The Triduum is the time between the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday, and it is the summit of the Liturgical Year.
“I always tell people that part of Holy Week, and the beauty of it, are the ceremonies – the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Good Friday Liturgy, the Easter Vigil Mass,” said Father Murray. “So if you haven’t lived a great Lent, one way you can make up for it is to go to those ceremonies. Devote the time and then fully enter into them. Take a missalette with you. Read it, meditate on it. Because we do want to get a benefit from this Lent, we don’t want it to just cruise by like something that’s in the rearview mirror of our car.”
Another way you can prepare for Holy Week is to by preparing to see new people at your parish. Many people may be visiting from out of town, or coming back to church after months or years of being away. Preparing yourself for this will make you more likely to welcome them warmly rather than grumbling because the newcomers took your pew. Father Murray suggested having a few conversation starters to make those around you feel welcome.
“If you know them, say ‘It’s great to see you!” he suggested. “Or if it’s a stranger in the Church, say ‘Happy Easter! It’s so nice to have you in our parish. Do you live around here?’ There are different ways you can strike up conversation.”
“But I think the best example we can have is our own behavior at Mass,” he continued. “Show that we’re paying attention, that we’re praying, that we’re focusing. People always notice what others are doing around them. If people are there because it’s their Easter and Christmas appearance, and they realize the mystical aspect of people wrapped up in prayer – not focused on what’s happening so much as who they’re speaking to – then perhaps they’ll get that interest to say, ‘Well, maybe I need to spend some more time putting my faith first in life.'”
But even though Holy Week marks the end of Lent, it doesn’t mean your spiritual growth should end with it. We still have 50 days of the Easter season to celebrate!
“Lent is kind of like tuning up your car or getting back in physical shape,” Father Murray said. “It’s a way to strengthen our ordinary Catholic life. And then the joy of the Easter season gives us all kinds of opportunity to say, ‘Now that I’ve made an effort to come closer to the Lord, what am I going to do with those graces?'”
Listen to the full conversation below: