I don't know about you, but often I arrive at Palm Sunday wishing I had been more intentional about my Lent, more careful in my Lenten promises. Thankfully, the start of Holy Week feels like a chance to kick my Lenten observation in gear and ramp up my devotions--a renewal of purpose. So here we are, in the home stretch! And after a week of being sick and getting next to nothing done, I'm ready to live out this week in the spirit of penance and devotion as we prepare for the holiest feast of the liturgical year. There are so many wonderful little traditions we mothers can include to make this week special--literally dozens of activities, crafts, readings, and whatnot, all over the web. My state of life requires that I keep it simple. ;) We'll be continuing our regular Lenten schedule with just a few small additions. Here's what I hope for our week to look like:
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week
:: Spring cleaning! As I mentioned in my post on chores, I save all my most-dreaded or most-forgotten household tasks for twice a year: Lent and Advent. So this week we'll be scrubbing windows, dusting fan blades, organizing boxes in the garage, and so on. And once again, we'll be writing each chore down on a slip of paper, and our penances will symbolically become a lovely banner for Easter (the kids really loved this last year). Last time, I punched a bunch of large circles out of colored paper, the kids wrote their little offerings on them, and then we strung them up and hung it on the mantel. This year, I'm thinking of doing a simple paper chain to hang over the dining room windows. We'll see what the kids come up with.
:: Listening. I'll be playing some of our favorites: Stabat Mater, O Sacred Head Surrounded, Tantum Ergo, and other traditional favorites. Having some background music helps to create a more solemn tone in our home. (We're also doing a little pre-Easter practice of "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today" and "Regina Caeli" during our school lessons so we'll be ready on Sunday morning.)
:: Baking. It is a long-standing tradition to do a fast during all of Lent, and when you have spent forty days fasting, Easter is really a time to feast! But it is also a time to rest. So I'll be planning my menu and prepping any treats and meals I can ahead of time, during Holy Week. (That will also include a batch of shortbread for my husband's Easter basket. ;)
:: Crafting. In the past, we have made a "stained glass" cross, festive paper chains, and tissue paper flowers. I love having handmade decorations around for special feasts, and the children like feeling like they're a real part of our seasonal celebrations. This year, I'm hoping to have the children make a beeswax Easter candle and some coffee filter butterflies...and we'll see what else. Some of this will get done this week and will be put up on Easter morning; some we will save for the Easter octave.
:: We have been praying the Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent, but this week, we'll move it to Thursday to leave time on Friday for the liturgy. Our Stations of the Cross box remains a big hit.
:: We'll be singing the "Tantum Ergo" during our morning prayers on Thursday to gain the plenary indulgence.
:: Hot cross buns and tea for breakfast. These delicious buns have always felt like a bit of an indulgence to me, but I'm not one to argue with tradition, so buns it is! ;) I usually do a less-sweet version, with dried fruit pressed into a cross along the top rather than frosting. Last year I just used the challah recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day formed into little rolls, and the year before that, I did the same thing with their brioche. (Yum.) Obviously, my husband and I will be fasting, but the rest of my children's meals that day will be very simple fare.
:: On years when we haven't attended church this day, we have spent the time from noon-3pm in silence or prayer, doing the Stations of the Cross, praying the Sorrowful Mysteries, watching "The Passion" (just the adults, back when we just had napping babies), or following the traditional Good Friday liturgy on YouTube (a gem, if you'll be staying home--pray along!).
:: This year, I plan to take my two first-graders to Good Friday liturgy--it will be their first time experiencing the traditional three-hour service. So we're preparing for that this week, going over the readings, prayers, and postures.
Good Friday evening through Holy Saturday is a time for quiet, prayer, spiritual reading, chores. We won't be attending the Vigil on Saturday evening with all our small ones, so it will be an early bedtime for the littles so Mommy can get to work: last-minute errands, cooking, pressing Mass outfits, packing gift baskets, stuffing Easter eggs, and the million other little things that always crop up the day before a big celebration. ;)
+ Wishing you a blessed Holy Week! +