How can we, in the midst of all we're going through, make “Holy Week” a little more holy?
Everyone knows that the Sunday before Easter is called “Palm Sunday,” right? And the Friday before Easter is “Good Friday.” Some even know that Thursday is called “Maundy Thursday” (“Maundy,” derived from the Latin word for "command," refers to Jesus' commandment to the disciples to "Love one another as I have loved you").
But many of us, even if we know such things, are more or less at a loss to know how to meaningfully mark such important days in the Christian year. How can we, in the midst of these difficult times, make “Holy Week” a little more holy? Is it possible?
I think it is. I think the best way to do that is with prayer. So here are six Holy Week prayers, specific to each day, followed by a suggestion for further prayer and meditation:
Lord Jesus, it was on a Tuesday that you spoke out against abuse of power, collaboration with oppressors, misuse of authority. So today we pray, comforter of the abused, strengthen those burdened by corrupted rule or injustice; rescue the overwhelmed; be present to those who call on your name, to those we name on our lips, and in the silence of our hearts, those whose concerns are known only to you; amen.
Lord Jesus, it was on this day that Judas Iscariot conspired to betray you. Remembering that, I pray the prayer of Augustine: “Lord Jesus, don't let me lie when I say that I love you...and protect me today, for I could betray you.” Amen.
Lord Jesus, I pray today with Peter, who recoiled when you stooped to wash his feet: “Lord, wash, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” And my heart. And my mind. And my life. Amen (based on John 13:9).
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon--
I, only I.
Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
(by Christina Rosetti, public domain)
Lord Jesus, Jesus, I await you. Be risen anew in my heart as the light of Easter dawns tomorrow, amen.
It is only right, with all the powers of our heart and mind, to praise You, Father, and Your Only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ: Dear Father, by Your wondrous condescension of loving-kindness toward us, Your servants, You gave up Your Son. Dear Jesus, You paid the debt of Adam for us to the Eternal Father by Your Blood poured forth in loving-kindness. You cleared away the darkness of sin by Your magnificent and radiant Resurrection. You broke the bonds of death and rose from the grave as a Conqueror. You reconciled heaven and earth. Our life had no hope of eternal happiness before You redeemed us. Your Resurrection has washed away our sins, restored our innocence and brought us joy. How inestimable is the tenderness of Your love!
(Saint Gregory the Great's Easter Prayer)
You may want to pray these to begin each day in this Holy Week. Or you may pray each prayer several times a day. However you utilize these prayers, I hope they will enrich your walk with God and make this Holy Week truly—well, holy.