On this, the start of Holy Week, my thoughts turn to so many years of Holy Weeks. I have celebrated differently throughout the years, but always the same Jesus. Always, the Father’s love and mercy.
I had learned from my mother how to observe Holy Week, and I remember wanting to pass this on to my own young family. Although my husband advised me not to try, I was determined to go to Good Friday services with our two young toddlers and new baby.
So, with children still groggy from naps, I packed us up and started for church. Did I mention my husband was not able to leave work to help us? As we walked in, the cool, dark church was just as I remembered. This was going to be fine. Wrong. So wrong. It was not fine, and, in fact, we had to leave the service early out of an abundance of love for the rest of the worshipers.
The next year, older and wiser, I had decided we couldn’t attend Good Friday service. Sadly explaining my dilemma to a friend, she gave me a terrific idea—a tradition that her family had practiced for many years. She would gather rocks and place them in the bottom of a large, round platter, to which she added fourteen small candles and a crucifix—a small Golgatha.
On Good Friday, the family gathered around the small “hill of Calvary” and began to say the Stations of the Cross. Each took turns with the readings. After each Station, a long candle snuffer would be used to put out a candle. Using this method, even young children, who could not yet read, would feel a part of things. After the last Station, the crucifix would be surrounded by fourteen burned out candles, and they would be left in a prominent place until Easter morning.
Brilliant. It worked so beautifully with even my young family, that we used it for all the years when my children lived at home. My husband and I still spend part of Good Friday this way, finding that this simple, meditative method of saying the Stations of the Cross helps focus us on the Passion in a meaningful way. I may have developed different traditions from my mother over the years, but I feel like I surely prepared my children to celebrate Easter. I know it was meaningful to them because these many years later this tradition continues in the homes of my children.
May this year bring forth the blessing of new and old traditions in our lives, to help us celebrate the sacred mysteries that lie before us this week.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world!