Tomorrow begins the Triduum: the solemn and beautiful three days that lead us through the Last Supper, the stages of the Passion, and ultimately, to the glorious resurrection of Our Lord. But this Holy Week is like none we have ever lived through. We all have family traditions that surround the offered liturgy of this season, most of which revolve around the Mass and take place in a church. We have been living with an eerie comparison to Holy Saturday for weeks now. Normally, there is only one day a year where the Eucharist is not available to us, or confessionals are closed and the Blessed Sacrament is nowhere exposed. This Lent, we have been forced to let go of many meaningful traditions, and sacrifice in a way we never imagined we would. I keep asking the Lord, how does he want us to respond?
It is a strange paradox because it is as if life has been halted, and yet, at home, we suddenly find ourselves needing to work, educate, comfort, and constantly feed—and doing it all within tight quarters. At the beginning, it was a lovely change of pace, but now teenagers are frustrated, small children are antsy, and did I mention that no one will stop eating? And suddenly, it is Holy Week, and we must find a way to bring these sacred remembrances into our domestic churches, and pray it is significant and somehow enough.
When I reflect on the question of how we should respond, Psalm 34 keeps coming to mind. We are called to praise the Lord at all times, to let his praise continually be on our lips. Our peace always begins with gratitude, with thanksgiving, and with worship. Verse four tells us that God will deliver us from all of our fears. It is so easy to be carried away by our fears, but God reminds us again and again that we need not be afraid. The psalmist tells us to “taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (v 8). Isn’t that what we all long for right now—refuge? And then two of my favorite verses of all time, seventeen and eighteen: “The righteous cry out, and he hears them; he delivers them from all their trouble. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Our hearts are breaking that we cannot be with the Lord in the Eucharist, that we cannot see our priests wash the laymen’s feet, or walk the Stations of the Cross in our familiar sacred spaces. We feel crushed in spirit when we consider waking up on Easter morning unable to rejoice with our friends, and it is unimaginable that we will not receive Christ’s resurrected body on that day. But we must remember that none of this changes who God is. None of it limits how present he can be in our lives and in our families, and none of it is out of his control. His desire in all things and at all times is to bring people to himself, so that he can reveal his great love to us. That is what we commemorate this week, that is what Easter is about—his great, unbounded, indefatigable love for each and every one of us—and that is true no matter where or how we celebrate it.