Celebrating Holy Week At Home
Finding Light in the Darkness of a Pandemic
Restricted from public gatherings, Catholics around the world will be unable to attend Holy Week Masses and services.
This provides the challenge of finding ways to observe these holy days at home. Confined to our homes with fewer distractions, it also provides an opportunity to approach the celebrations of Holy Week more fully and intentionally than usual. Though it will not be the same as joining our friends and neighbors in our parish church to celebrate the central feasts of our faith, we can still find meaningful ways to commemorate and celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Celebrate the Triduum with Pope Francis this year, live-streamed to your home
The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household announced “that, because of the current global public health emergency, all the Liturgical Celebrations of Holy Week will take place without the physical presence of the faithful.” The statement also confirmed that all the celebrations will be broadcast live on radio and television and livestreamed by Vatican News. The Holy Father will celebrate the Holy Week rites at the Altar of the Cathedra, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, in accordance with the following calendar:
Palm Sunday — April 5
11:00 a.m. Commemoration of the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem and Holy Mass
Holy Thursday — April 9
6:00 p.m. Holy Thursday, The Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Good Friday — April 10
6:00 p.m. Pope Francis will preside over the Liturgy of the Word, the Adoration of the Cross, and the Communion Rite at The Passion of the Lord, commemorating the Lord’s crucifixion and death on Mount Calvary.
9:00 p.m. Pope Francis will participate in the “Via Crucis,” or “Way of the Cross” on the parvis of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Holy Saturday — April 11
9:00 p.m. Pope Francis will bless the new fire and lead the procession with the Easter candle and the singing of the “Exsultet” (or “Easter Proclamation”), before presiding over the Liturgy of the Word, the Baptismal Liturgy and the Celebration of the Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.
Easter Sunday – April 12
11:00 a.m. Pope Francis will celebrate Easter Mass and impart the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing at the end of Mass.
Other Televised Masses
- CatholicTV broadcasts Masses live from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame’s campus.
- Many dioceses live-stream Masses and services to the faithful. Check your diocesan website for information.
- If your parish or diocese does not have a broadcast Mass, go to www.watchthemass.com
Pray the Stations of the Cross or practice other Devotions
- The Stations of the Cross by Saint Francis of Assisi
- Stations of the Cross HD — TV Version
- The Stations of the Cross with Bishop Barron
- THE CHAPLET OF DIVINE MERCY (ROSARY)
Listen to the Readings of the Day
Celebrating Holy Week at Home with Children
Alleluia! He is Risen!
If children are in the home, include them in the planning and preparation for Holy Week. This may mean something as simple as deciding who will lead prayer or proclaim the readings of the day. You can use the daily readings at usccb.org/readings or find the stories in a children’s Bible for younger children. Depending on their ages and your situation, it can include planning how to prepare the worship environment, deciding what meals you will share or what activities to participate in each day. Talk about each of the days of Holy Week and ask them what symbols come to mind. Have them gather or create the symbols, possibly assigning the preparation for each day to each child. The symbols can be displayed on the dining table or on a designated prayer table on the appropriate days.
Bread, cup, basin, pitcher and towel
Bare cross, crown of thorns
Candles, water, Bible, bottle of oil, bread and cup of wine
Cross with draped cloth, flowers, butterflies, eggs
Family Activity Ideas
Palm Sunday —
Read the Passion aloud together, using a children’s Bible if more appropriate for your children, assigning speaking parts for children who are readers.
Holy Thursday —
Read the Scripture readings aloud or celebrate a Liturgy of the Word Service. Share a Meal; Wash each other’s feet.
Good Friday —
Pray the Stations of the Cross aloud together, taking turns reading. Use pictures or symbols to mark each station and place around your home or yard. Sing “Were You There” as you process from station to station. Print and video resources are available online, or write your own.
Easter Vigil —
Color eggs together. Eggs are a symbol of new life. If you didn’t get dye, experiment with onion or vegetable skins, powdered drink mix or jello.
Make Victory Crosses. Decorate crosses to celebrate Christ’s victory over death, not just for Him, but for all of us. Use craft materials you have at home. Crosses can be made from craft sticks, cardboard cut into shapes and glued together, or plain paper. Decorations for the crosses can be stick-on or glued-on items, cut-out symbols, copied and colored, or drawn by hand. Symbols can be:
- The Sun – source of light and warmth, light overcomes the darkness.
- Water – necessary for all living things.
- Heart – symbol of the love God has for us and love we are called to share with others.
- Vine/branches – symbol of our connectedness to Jesus and each other.
- Bread – Jesus is the bread of life, nourishing us in the Eucharist.
- Grapes – the fruit that becomes the blood, sign of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
- Dove – sign of the Holy Spirit, who remains to lift and guide us as disciples of Jesus.
- Butterfly – sign of transformation from life to death and the glorious resurrection into a new life that never ends.
Watch the sunset together; process outside after dark; light a candle or bonfire and talk about the significance of the Paschal candle. Talk about how Jesus is light and hope for people, even when they feel alone, or lost or surrounded by darkness.
Have an Easter Egg Hunt or Egg Roll. The egg represents the stone being rolled away from the tomb.