This is the first article in a new series on "How to Celebrate Holy Week at Home."
Palm Sunday is right around the corner. This has always been one of my favorite Sundays of the year.
As a kid, when Palm Sunday rolled around, I knew that the “torture” of Lent (remember, I was just a kid) was almost over—I could almost smell the Easter candy coming my way.
During Mass, the Gospel transported me right to the scene of Jesus’ passion. I felt like I was right there—in the middle of everything. And what kid doesn’t love getting to hold a palm during the homily?
Many of us are saddened by the fact that we will be celebrating Palm Sunday at home this year. One thing is certain: this will be a memorable Palm Sunday.
In an effort to live out the mystery of the passion with life and joy, I wanted to share some ideas to help your family have a fruitful Palm Sunday celebration.
5 Tips for Celebrating Palm Sunday at Home
1. Start with a procession.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, everyone was so excited that they wanted to honor Jesus. They wanted to celebrate His coming to their city.
Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
In the same spirit, you can find anything that shows your excitement that Jesus is coming to your home.
It’s springtime here in North Carolina and the flowers are in full bloom. Any flowers or pretty branches could be used for a procession around the house. Start outside, if the weather permits! If you can’t find flowers or branches, have the kids decorate homemade signs that say “Hosanna!”
Hold up your branches or pictures and process around the house singing a hymn or saying “HOSANNA! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
2. Tell the story of the Passion to your kids.
If you have little children, tell them the story of Jesus' Passion—even if they're heard it before. As moms know, children love to have stories repeated to them!
There are beautiful editions of bible stories out there that are perfect for reading aloud to children. The Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories by Amy Steedman is a great option, and has beautiful illustrations. There are other options for kids here.
3. Participate in Mass.
Watch a livestream Mass and participate in the Gospel responses—just as you would in Church. You can use a missal to follow along.
When you participate in a livestream Mass, it's also very important to dress as you would if you were going to Mass. This really helps create the right mindset and atmosphere for adults in particular—and also makes a big impact on children's understandings of what is going on here at home!
4. Be together.
Plan a family activity for the afternoon. This will likely be the most memorable Palm Sunday of your life, so make sure that you take some time to really soak it in. Be together—take some time to enjoy being outside...go for a walk...play a board game.
While you spend time together, ask open-ended questions such as: “What do you think Jesus was thinking when He was riding on the donkey and everyone was shouting for Him?”
The point is not to find the “right answer” but to really place yourself in the Gospel scene as if you were there. In this way, we can draw closer to Jesus through “holy imagination.”
5. Plan for Holy Week.
What are you going to do this week? How are you going to give yourself to God and really live this last week of Lent? Jesus desperately wants to be with us—how are we going to be open to Him?
We can pray a daily Rosary. We can “attend” daily livestream Mass. We can read a book that draws us into the Passion.
There are many options and opportunities available to us. The important thing is to write down our plan—otherwise, it might remain just a nice idea.
Let us delve into Holy Week, ready to fully participate!
We hope these ideas help to ease the burdens you are experiencing.
We are praying for you and for your family here at The Catholic Company!