A family “how to” for Holy Week

Jesus on Cross RGB mjBzWKCSomeone I know who works at a busy Catholic parish told me about the time she got invited to a Thursday night Pampered Chef party by another parishioner. Turns out the date was bad for her—and for the Catholic hostess, too, had she been paying attention. The designated evening was Holy Thursday. While there was surely some food preparation involved at the Last Supper, commemorating Holy Thursday is best done in worship as a community—not by witnessing the wonders of a gourmet garlic press.

The story reminded me of someone in my extended family who made a tradition of using Good Friday as a day to go shopping with her mom at an upscale mall. My mother-in-law was aghast and tried with each passing year to convince the young woman of the inappropriateness of hitting glitzy stores on the same day Jesus died on Calvary. Continue reading

Calling all feet

waterjugI won’t forget the first time the whole churchful of us washed one another’s feet at Our Lady of Mercy Church on Holy Thursday. Some sat cemented to the pews, determined that no one have a chance to snicker at their bunions, their ugly toenails. Others took off shoes and socks and walked haltingly, bare toes on marble, up the aisles, to where someone washed their feet and they, in turn, washed the feet of the person behind them. The choir began to sing.

A white-haired man knelt and took my 7-year-old daughter’s foot in his huge hands. Singing to her all the while, he poured water over her foot and tenderly dried it. “En la arena he dejado mi barca,” he sang, looking her in the eye, smiling, “junto a Ti buscaré otro mar.” (“All I longed for, I have found by the water. At your side, I will seek other shores.”) I pondered stealing the foot towel to dry my tears. Continue reading

A family “how to” for Holy Week

Someone I know who works at a busy Catholic parish told me about the time she got invited to a Thursday night Pampered Chef party by another parishioner. Turns out the date was bad for her—and for the Catholic hostess, too, had she been paying attention. The designated evening was Holy Thursday. While there was surely some food preparation involved at the Last Supper, commemorating Holy Thursday is best done in worship as a community—not by witnessing the wonders of a gourmet garlic press.

The story reminded me of someone in my extended family who made a tradition of using Good Friday as a day to go shopping with her mom at an upscale mall. My mother-in-law was aghast and tried with each passing year to convince the young woman of the inappropriateness of hitting glitzy stores on the same day Jesus died on Calvary.

So what does Holy Week deserve from us Catholics? How can we best observe the days and draw our children into the mysteries of our faith that we celebrate during this week? Here are the basics: Continue reading