In the course of our busy week, we most likely have times set apart for certain things that are important to us—a workout, a few social phone calls, or maybe even a short catnap—so that we can renew ourselves, our energy, and our perspective.
Holy Week is a time that is set apart in our Church’s liturgical year for our spiritual renewal. In fact, the word holy refers to anything that is set apart for God’s purposes. Holy Week is holy precisely because it is time that is set apart for us to focus on how we are spiritually renewed through the suffering, death, and Resurrection of Jesus.
Holy Week is the week preceding Easter and the final week of Lent. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and ends with Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Holy Week includes Holy Thursday (also known as Maundy Thursday) and Good Friday, which, together with Holy Saturday, are known as the Triduum.
During Holy Week, Christians commemorate the Passion of Christ, who died on Good Friday in reparation for the sins of mankind, and rose on Easter Sunday to give new life to all who believe. Thus, while Holy Week is solemn and sorrowful, it also anticipates the joy of Easter through the recognition of God’s goodness in sending his son to die for our salvation.
The liturgies of Holy Week are filled with some of the richest and most ancient symbols of the Catholic faith. The waving of palms on Passion (Palm) Sunday reminds us that we are called to be followers of Jesus, not just fans who cheer from a distance. The washing of feet on Holy Thursday speaks to us of the selfless love that we are called to practice in imitation of Jesus. The veneration of the cross on Good Friday reminds us that, as Christians, we believe that Jesus can overcome anything, even death. The lighting of the Easter fire in a darkened church and the celebration of baptisms on Holy Saturday speak to us of the new life that is ours because of Jesus’ triumph over the darkness of sin and death through his resurrection.
This Holy Week, allow yourself time apart, holy time, to spend with Jesus. May it be a time set apart to unclutter your mind, lay down your burdens, and renew your faith in Jesus.