Holy Week Devotions are a wonderful way to celebrate the holiest time of our Church year. Holy Week is the last week of Lent-the last week before we celebrate Easter. It is a week where we reflect deeply on Jesus’ Passion and death on the cross for our salvation. It is a week where we have the opportunity to live more deeply the love Christ has for us.
Are you ready to experience it? Here are some Holy Week devotions to help you live Holy Week well.
Holy Week Devotions: Celebrate as a family.
When we are raising a family, it can be challenging to pray each day, let alone add more time for prayer during Holy Week. If possible, include your children into your Holy Week devotions. You can listen to or read the Mass readings together, talk about them, read a children’s’ book or watch a video together about Holy Week and Easter. If you and your kids like crafts, you could make a craft project or two. There are many possibilities!
Involving everyone as you prepare during Holy Week for Easter helps you grow in faith as a family.
Read the Mass readings each day.
Reading the Mass readings every day is a great way to enter into the reality of Christ’s passion and death. Not only that, but the readings help us to understand all of the events that lead up to this moment. We see how Jesus is fulfilling His mission to live and willingly sacrifice Himself for us. We can travel with HIm on this journey as we read and meditate on what is going on in His life leading up to Easter.
You can find the daily Mass readings on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops‘ website. You can read them on the website or request to have them e-mailed to you each day.
You can also download the Laudate app for the daily readings. You can read the Mass readings via the app or put on the audio version and listen to them.
Spend more time in prayer.
A nice way to add more prayer into your life this week is to pray before and/or after reading the Mass readings each day. Before the readings, ask God to help you understand what you will read and apply to your life what He desires for you.
If you pray after reading the Mass readings, you can talk to God about what you just read and also spend time contemplating the words of Jesus and meditating on His suffering.
Other prayers you may enjoy during Holy Week are: to spend time in Jesus’ presence in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, pray the Rosary, or offer up sacrifices for others. The possibilities are endless.
A beautiful prayer, especially for Lent, is the Prayer Before a Crucifix.
For some more ideas on how to pray, see “How to “Pray About It”.”
Make time for reflection.
Put aside some time to reflect on Jesus’ Passion and death. Jesus loves us. He suffered and died for us. It is worthwhile to spend some time reflecting on this during Holy Week, even if it only a few minutes each day.
Pray the Stations of the Cross.
Many churches schedule time for parishioners to gather together to pray the Stations of the Cross. If your own parish does not, perhaps you have another local church you can go to where you can pray the Stations with others. If this is not feasible, you can pray them on your own at church or at home.
If your kids like to draw, the might enjoy drawing a picture of each station.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has a scriptural Stations of the Cross that you can pray.
Attend Holy Thursday Mass.
Holy Thursday. The washing of the feet. The institution of the Eucharist. The Agony in the garden. Jesus is arrested.
It is a busy night. A lot is going on in Jesus’ life! Attending Mass on Holy Thursday is a way to participate more fully in the events occurring in Jesus’ life on this day. We celebrate and commemorate these events in Jesus’ life together as a community when we gather together as a community for Mass.
Attend Good Friday service.
We read the Passion and death of Jesus. We reverence the cross. We have a communion service. We notice the absence of holy water from the holy water fonts.
On Good Friday we do not have Mass. Jesus is in the tomb. We do have a communion service, using hosts that were consecrated at a previous Mass (usually on Holy Thursday). We acknowledge that Jesus has died for us.
The holy water fonts are empty, reminding us that Jesus is in the grave.
If you are interested in more information about why we do not have holy water from after Mass on Holy Thursday until the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday, you can read this letter from the Holy See to EWTN.
Usually, the Good Friday service is at 3:00, the hour when Jesus died on the cross. This can be a particularly challenging time to go to church when we have little children. (Says the mom whose friend took our girls to sit with her one year so I could deal with our son who was very busy during the service.)
If it is not realistic for you to go to the Good Friday service, you can read over the readings at home or spend time in prayer or meditation on Jesus’ passion and death.
Attend the Easter Vigil Mass.
The Easter Vigil Mass is an incredible Mass. We celebrate that Jesus has risen from the dead! We celebrate the new Catholics in our midst as we welcome the Elect into our Catholic Church family through Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist. We celebrate as a family Christ’s sacrifice and love for us. It is a Mass full of joy and celebration.
With young children, the Vigil Mass can be challenging since it is in the evening and Mass is long. Our youngest child fell asleep during the Vigil Mass a few years ago.
Attend Easter Sunday Mass.
On Easter day we live the confusion of the women finding Jesus’ tomb empty. We live their joy as they discover Jesus rose from the dead. We follow the disciples as the run to the tomb to see for themselves that it is empty. We marvel that our God loves us so much that He conquered death for us so we could be with Him one day in Heaven.
Note: We are not required to attend both the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday and Mass on Easter Sunday. Attending one Mass is what the Church asks of us. However, each Mass has different readings. On some years our family goes to Mass on Easter day, and other years we attend the Easter Vigil Mass.
Holy Week devotions are a blessing.
Living Holy Week well is a blessing that can carry us through the rest of the year. The fruits of spending more time with Jesus during this special, holy week can increase our love for and our understanding of Jesus and His great love for us. Spending time as a family during Holy Week preparing for Easter is a special time.
Jesus is waiting for us.