Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. But this year, because of global quarantine due to the COVID-19 crisis, we will surely have to observe Holy Week in a unique way.
One reason why this year’s commemoration of the Our Lord’s supreme actions of love is unprecedented in the Philippines is the fact that most of us cannot attend any religious services or Masses during the liturgical celebration of Holy Week.
“We abide by the government’s directive to suspend all large gatherings from March 15 to April 14. So there will be no celebration of the Holy Mass with a large congregation within this period, plus other religious activities during the Holy Week, which usually attract huge crowds of the faithful,” said the Catholic bishops in a statement.
But don’t let that stop you from observing Holy Week in a time of social distancing and staying at home. Here are the suggestions on how to make Holy Week meaningful, relevant, and personal—wherever you are:
ATTEND ONLINE MASSES
Masses are still being celebrated even during the quarantine, albeit the faithful are not allowed to be in church. You can watch one live or at any time of the day through CBCP News which posts Masses from parishes all over the country or you can catch the mass coverage of local cable channels.
Tune-in to the online Holy Week Services: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday and Easter Sunday Mass and services.
If you can’t tune-in online, you could pray as a family the Home celebrations for Holy Week, and pray often the spiritual communion.
You will find that there’s a certain solemnity in seeing a priest say Mass all by himself.
REFLECT ON CHRIST’S PASSION, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION THROUGH AN ONLINE ART EXHIBIT
“Kristo Rizal: A Virtual Lenten Art Exhibit” features the paintings of more than 40 Rizal Province-based artists. They decided to hold an online art exhibit when the quarantine prevented them from mounting their show at SM City East Ortigas.
Bong Anore, one of the artists in the exhibit shared: “In an inexplicable way, we are moved to dab and create a picture with the aid of reliable brushes and seasoned pigments on the hostile canvases to come up with a spirited image we believe to be his very own one.”
Visit the online art exhibit here.
PRAY THE ROSARY
One of the reasons why we pray the rosary is to meditate on the life of Jesus and Mary. But that is just one reason.
Repetitive recitation of the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be will have a calming effect on you that will soothe your worries and fears about COVID-19.
You can also offer your prayers for a specific person or group of people such as the valiant medical health practitioners and other front-liners who risk their own lives to help COVID-19 patients recover.
Include also in your prayers the people—doctors and patients—who have lost their lives to this dreaded infectious disease.
CONFESS STRAIGHT TO GOD
Have you ever done something wrong or bad? During Holy week, make sure that you are in a state of grace, meaning, no mortal sin is weighing you down. Great relief always comes after unburdening yourself to God in prayer.
If you are not in a state of grace, it is highly encouraged that you receive God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession. Pope Francis recommended it himself in a mass streamed from Rome last March 20.
“Do what the Catechism (of the Catholic Church) says,” he said.
He also suggested an alternative if no priest is unavailable.
“It is very clear: If you cannot find a priest to confess to, speak directly with God, your father, and tell him the truth. Say, ‘Lord, I did this, this, this. Forgive me,’ and ask for pardon will all your heart.”
You can pray an act of perfect contrition with the will to confess as soon as possible. Sometimes, listening to yourself as you confess to God makes you reflect on your words and resolve to do better next time.
SPEND A QUIET WEEK BY CONTEMPLATING THE SACRIFICES OF THE LORD AND OFFERING ATONEMENTS IN RETURN
Accompany the Lord closely during these days by meditating on the Gospel passages which narrate His Passion and Death. If you haven’t already, this will help you realize how much He loves you.
Also, offer your sufferings to God. Be it illness, risk of exposure to the COVID-19 because of your job; anxiety because of the future’s uncertainty; separation from those who are quarantined; the death of a loved one or a friend; all of those will become a pleasing sacrifice.
This week is the perfect time to start living a holy life, not only during this Holy Week but beginning again daily by avoiding sins which are the cause of Christ’s Passion and Death.
Help the people around you live a pleasant life by volunteering to lend a hand during this crisis, giving food to those who do not have, donating and distributing necessities.
If you do not have the resources, you can do simple acts of love such as being a little more patient and ready to forgive for the offenses received, biting one’s tongue instead of answering back, and avoiding an impulsive character which can rub other people the wrong way.
This Holy Week, convert everything mentioned above into prayer by doing them for God out of love.
Through generous prayers and sacrifice in and reparation for your sins, you can observe Holy Week in the best manner possible: to live it in a holy way.