Celebrating Holy Week Meaningfully
Prayer Points for the Days of Holy Week
Note: Since I will be gone for the holy week, I thought of sharing these notes from a recollection I gave to a parish community. I will also use these for my reflection this holy week. I promise to keep all of you in my prayer.
I. Palm Sunday: Entering our “Jerusalems”
A. Three Images of Jerusalem:
Jerusalem 1: For the Jews, it is the city of God; The Temple was the center of worship; it is where God dwells.
Jerusalem 2: It is also the place of suffering and death; it is the place of the cross.
Jerusalem 3: When the city of Jerusalem fell in 70 AD to the great Roman army, the Temple was destroyed. Paul said that we are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and thus Jerusalem, the city of God is now in each one of us.
B. Our Jerusalems Today:
1. Our Personal Jerusalems: Are we willing to undergo the necessary pains in our lives?
2. Our National Jerusalems: If we would like to develop as a country or even live out the aspiration of peaceful change in the EDSA revolution, are we willing to fight graft and corruption, and undergo the rejection and difficulties it entails?
3. Our Global Jerusalem: If we would like a beautiful world, are we willing to protect our environment?
II. The Daily Jerusalems: Holy Monday, Tueday and Wednesday
A. The symbol of the cross is displayed in every corner of our rooms, or we carry it in our pockets. It means that the cross looms over our daily lives.
B. Sharing our daily and necessary pains or our cross in our lives:
a. Students: the daily routine of studies
b. Workforce: the demands and stress of work and travel
c. Parenting and the suffering it entails
d. Aging: facing sickness and imminent end; loneliness; not being “needed” anymore; diminishing power.
C. Reflection Questions: How do I respond to my daily crosses? How do I share in Jesus’ carrying his cross?
III. Holy Thursday: Community Life
A. Jerusalem: the scene of the Last Supper; the Institution of the Priesthood and the Eucharist.
B. Chrism Mass: forms community in the sharing of the bread; practicing our common priesthood in worship and in the sharing of our brokenness in our lives.
C. The Washing of the Feet: builds community through service.
1. Community is now a community of friends and not of slaves.
2. Sharing of our common pains brings people together.
D. Reflection Questions:
1. How do I form community? Do I come to mass for myself and my personal intentions only, or do I come to mass to worship with others?
2. Do I offer myself at the service of my community? How do I treat other people who are not of my status and rank?
IV. Good Friday: Jerusalem, the Place of Death
A. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: The sooner we see and accept that death is part of living the better our lives become.
B. Death is happening everywhere: biology, psychology, music, etc. No one is exempted from the experience of death.
C. Death makes us see reality and our mortality: our limitations, finitude.
D. We are humbled by death. In the wake of death, anything we say is insufficient and wanting. No need for justifications that can appease a person who experiences death. That is why all we can do is bow and kiss the cross of Christ.
E. Reflection Questions:
1. What is my attitude towards the death or the thought of death?
2. Do I avoid the topic? Deny the place of death in our lives? Run away from any pain, suffering and death that comes from legitimate sources such as the decision to study, to work, to pursue an interest, or in the change of status such as marriage or celibate living or single-blessedness, etc.?
3. Do I try to justify, rationalize or spiritualize to escape from the pain of dying?
V. Black Saturday: The Period of Waiting and Anticipation
A. The Silence of God.
B. Meaningful waiting: there is a sure and guaranteed triumph. But the time is in God’s hands. Not ours. Not within our control. Trust in God’s promise of fulfillment.
C. Personal lives: there are times when we just have to wait: the results of the bar or the board exams or an application for a new job; wait for healing — some heals faster than others; some would take more time.
D. Reflection Questions: what is attitude towards waiting? Do I become impatient?
When I wait, do I actively wait by making myself do other good things? Or do I passively wait and not do anything? Where is my inclination: action or being?
VI. Easter Sunday: The Celebration of Newness
A. A celebration of a new life. A new growth. A step towards maturity. A change to a better life, a new creation.
B. Death and suffering does not have the last say. Our lives end in the Resurrection.
C. Names: a change of name in the Bible is a change of identity: Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Cephas to Peter, Saul to Paul. Baptismal names signify this change.
D. If Good Friday shows us of our mortality; Easter tells us that God made us immortals.
E. Sunday: now the new Sabbath; the beginning of a new creation, a new order of things.
F. Reflection Questions: What are the new things that are happening to me?
Do I see some changes in myself? Or am I on my way there?
Conclusion: Appreciation of Holy Week as the Pattern of Christian Living
1. The celebration of the Liturgical Seasons is an annual cycle.
2. The celebration of the Lent and Easter is yearly and repeatedly.
3. The way to growth is the way of the cross. We fall, suffer and die (Passion and Death), but we rise up again and move on (Resurrection). And then we fall, suffer and die, and we rise up again and move on. The Paschal Mystery is the pattern of authentic Christian living.