Without a doubt, Holy Week is the busiest week in the Church calendar! With so many important events, it is difficult for parishes to provide family-friendly services, especially when the themes are so sophisticated. Yet Holy Week is a wonderful time to help children enter more deeply into the mysteries of our faith through home based rituals. Here’s a few tips for making the week family-friendly:
Starting with Passion (Palm) Sunday, get the children to help you give your prayer space a passion make-over. Using palms from the Sunday service, or collected from your garden, decorate the space. Place other symbols of Christ’s passion there: a crown of thorns made by twisting some dried vines together, some nails, a crucifix.
Plan for some special family rituals
If you don’t plan it, it won’t happen! CathFamily has loads of articles, activities and prayers, but don’t make the schedule so demanding that you become stressed and anxious. As far as possible, these rituals should be enjoyable and stress-free.
Avoid the temptation to badger your children to sit still and be quiet – give them time and space to express their excitement and curiosity (or in the case of older children, disdain!).
Be flexible – if you don’t finish the ritual or you skip parts, that’s okay. And remember, use your imagination to make creative adaptations, for example, act out or chant the scripture passage instead of reading it, watch a movie of the story or have the children draw pictures etc.
Death and Resurrection
Like all good things, the feasting of Easter Sunday is most fully enjoyed when it is preceded by a time of restraint and reflection. Make the most of Good Friday as a day of fasting and abstinence by avoiding meat and resisting snacks. Talk about why we do this with your children: how this small discomfort helps us to understand the suffering of Jesus on our behalf and unites us with our brothers and sisters who are suffering from sickness or hunger.
Over to you! What special things do you do with your family for Easter? Is it just enough to get through all the cooking and family gatherings? Got any tips for de-stressing Easter and making it meaningful? Share your stories with us in the comments below?
For more on the Easter Octave, check out: