Catholic Activity: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week in the Home
Holy Week is the climax of the Lenten period, so our home activities should reflect an intensification in our works of Lent. These are suggestions for Monday through Wednesday of Holy Week, including spring cleaning, more prayer, preparing clothes for Easter, and prayer suggestions for the family meal.
Spring housecleaning is an ancient tradition, going back to the customs of the Jewish families in preparation for the Pasch. Perhaps we have cleaned the closets previously, looking for clothes to give away. And probably the modern homes with vacuum cleaners and air conditioning eliminate the need for the thorough cleanings of older times. But a special cleaning of the home in the first three days of Holy Week is still desirable in order that the home may likewise be in shining readiness for the glorious Resurrection.
Starting on Monday and for the rest of Holy Week the meals of the family should be simpler, though without being less nutritious Or filling. To sacrifice dessert or a more expensive cut of meat will help the family members become more aware of the austerity of this week.
During this week, too, the family members will try to find extra time for prayer in the home and for an intensification of all of their works of Lent.
The home activities of Holy Week are not all somber. We are aware that Easter is coming, and we have to be prepared for the joyous event. Buying or making new clothes and readying those already owned is a proper pre-Easter tradition. One's motives, unfortunately, can be purely secular, a desire to provide a style show. But regardless of abuses, the preparation of Easter garments (and one should include at least some little new item for each person in the family) is capable of being viewed in a genuinely religious way. Perhaps, too, it will happen that the last bit of Lenten self-denial the family practices is to resist wearing their new things until Easter!
The special prayer either before or after the evening meal is a selection from Psalm 21 in which we see through the eyes of David the picture of Christ suffering for us on the Cross.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, far from my prayer, from the words of my cry? O my God, I cry out by day, and you answer not; by night, and there is no relief for me. Yet you are enthroned in the holy place, O glory of Israel! In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried, and they escaped; in you they trusted, and they were not put to shame. But I am a worm, not a man; the scorn of men, despised by the people. All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads: "He relied on the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, if he loves him." You have been my guide since I was first formed, my security at my mother's breast. To you I was committed at birth, from my mother's womb you are my God. Be not far from me, for I am in distress; be near, for I have no one to help me.
Many bullocks surround me; the strong bulls of Basan encircle me. They open their mouths against me like ravening and roaring lions. I am like water poured out; all my bones are racked. My heart has become like wax melting away within my bosom. My throat is dried up like baked clay, my tongue cleaves to my jaws; to the dust of death you have brought me down. Indeed, many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me; They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones. They look on and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. But you, O Lord, be not far from me; O my help, hasten to aid me. Rescue my soul from the sword, my loneliness from the grip of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth; from the horns of the wild bulls, my wretched life.
I will proclaim your name to my brethren: in the midst of the assembly I will praise you; "You who fear the Lord, praise him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him; revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not spurned nor disdained the wretched man in his misery Nor did he turn his face away from him, but when he cried out to him, he heard him." So by your gift will I utter praise in the vast assembly; I will fulfill my vows before those who fear him. The lowly shall eat their fill; they who seek the Lord shall praise him: "May your hearts be ever merry!" All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; All the families of the nations shall bow down before him. For dominion is the Lord's and he rules the nations. To him alone shall bow down all who sleep in the earth; Before him shall bend all who go down into the dust. And to him my soul shall live; my descendants shall serve him. Let the coming generation be told of the Lord that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born the justice he has shown.
Activity Source: Lent and Holy Week in the Home by Emerson and Arlene Hynes, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1977