Catholic Activity: Palm Sunday and Holy Week in the Home
Holy Week is the pinnacle of Lent. We must instill in our children the importance of Holy Week. "The first efforts of all members of the family, then, will be to readjust their schedules at home in order to enter more fully into worship at their parish church on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening of Holy Week."
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, and these are suggestions to incorporate a family prayer service with the blessed palms.
Observing Holy Week in the Home
In many homes Christmas is the feast that makes the greatest appeal to the heart and which has the most family participation. Yet as Father Antonelli, O.F.M., writes:
". . . the rites of Holy Week stand at the center of the whole liturgy, just as the corresponding mysteries of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord stand at the center of the whole economy of salvation" (Worship, Feb., 1957, p. 145).Thus, the first task of parents in the home is to instruct the children by example and word in the importance of Holy Week. At no other time of the year will religious thought and practice be at such a high peak as during this sacred week, and no other family feast or festival should outrank that of Easter.
Many of the more important changes in the new rite for Holy Week and Easter were made for pastoral reasons. That is to say, for family reasons: to enable the families of the parish to participate more fully in the solemn worship at their parish church. The first efforts of all members of the family, then, will be to readjust their schedules at home in order to enter more fully into worship at their parish church on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening of Holy Week.
This is the day of the public homage to the kingship of Christ. The procession in church is an impressive act of loyalty to Christ the King.
Christ reigns as king of the Christian home also, and so a family prayer service within the house is a memorable part of this day. After the family meal, the members gather in the living room. From the palms received at the parish Mass, they prepare small crosses of palm to be pinned above the doorway of each room or woven palms to be placed behind the crucifix in each room. Then the father reads the account of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem from the family Bible (Matt. 21:1-11). Thereupon the mother, with a lighted candle, may lead a procession from one room to another. As they proceed, all sing "All Glory, Laud and Honor" (the hymn Gloria, laus, which is printed in the Holy Week booklet). Appropriate psalms may also be read aloud during the procession, especially Psalm 147, which is likewise in the Holy Week booklet, and Psalms 23 and 46. During the procession the children joyfully wave their blessed palms.
After the rooms of the house have been visited, all return to the living room. Here the father reads the final prayer of the procession rite used in church today (to be found just before the beginning of Mass in the Holy Week booklet), asking God to bless all the places to which these palms have been carried.
The small palm crosses or a woven palm should be kept visible in the home for the rest of the year as a daily reminder of our loyalty to Christ the King. On Ash Wednesday of the following year it is proper to burn the remaining palms and to sprinkle the ashes on the good earth about the home or in the garden.
Activity Source: Lent and Holy Week in the Home by Emerson and Arlene Hynes, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1977