Holy Week at Home – 2021 Edition

It’s been a year since we celebrated our first Holiday at Home thanks to Covid. With a year under our belts and incredible strides taken, I am happy to say that we feel miles away from where we were last March. Unfortunately, we aren’t 100 percent where I would like to be, but the positive is outweighing the bad and each week seems to bring new light to a new corner turned. It’s no secret that Easter stems from new life, promises made and kept, and a clean slate for all. This joyful holiday marks a certain rebirth in us all, bringing light to the three days of darkness that lead to a glorious Sunday. I can hear the hymns ringing from the pipe organ as I imagine the smell of the lilies that adorn the altar. We can choose to treat the days leading up to Easter as if they were ordinary days, or we can bring the holiness of Holy Week into our homes by making each day a little more special than the last as we anxiously await our beloved Easter Sunday.

Activities can be printed, websites can be scoured, and crafts can be replicated (or at least attempted) from handy–dandy Pinterest. Despite lifted mandates and the slow pace of getting back to a sense of normal, we aren’t quite there yet. We are still masked and distanced, sanitized and limited, but trying ever so hard to do our best so we can gather and celebrate in a B.C. (before Covid) fashion. I don’t know about you, but I would rather use my time in ways other than surfing and searching for at-home substitutions for a religious occasion. I’ve compiled a few of my favorites for this piece in hopes that it can be a “one-stop-shop” for the ways you can recognize Holy Week and celebrate Easter Sunday from the home instead of the pew.

Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week (the week leading to Easter Sunday)

We tried to go back in person a few times, but with limitations still in place, the full effect that I need from Mass is lacking. Streaming Mass online has been part of our weekly routine for a year now, and it is honestly working out better than I expected. The ability to pause, rewind, pause again, and discuss with little ones is priceless for me and ever so helpful in a week as important as this one.

I like to take a few days to reflect from Ash Wednesday to the present day and what that looked like for my family. Did we work on adding more acts of service into our lives? Did we remove something from our daily lives that kept all members from connecting more? How are we all reacting to the season of Lent and the fears and worries around us? Although this seems deep and intense, these topics can be altered for the ages of the family members. Coming straight from Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday should be on their minds for the next few days. If all else fails, making resurrection eggs ahead of time is always an on-point activity. Luckily, this is a simple task and most ingredients are probably somewhere in your house, check out this DIY how-to.

In preparation for Sunday, get out those Easter clothes. Take the early part of the week to spring clean (if you haven’t already done so in the past 2 weeks) so you can see a physical difference post-cleaning. Make a menu for the week and list any ingredients you may need for that special dessert. I like to experiment with a few trial runs in the kitchen before making the final product, and what a perfect time to iron out any imperfections (Read and laugh HERE about my famous Easter Lamb Cake failure and many more of 2020). Let the kids be the reason that the kitchen is messy. Let Holy Week be the cause for odd-shaped cookies, counters covered in flour, and off-centered lamb cakes.

For those of us with a lamb cake mold, try this recipe.

Never fear, these cute lamb cupcakes work just as well!

And if all those fail, break out the Betty Crocker cookie mix and bake away!

Holy Thursday

Serving others does not have to be a grand gesture, as revealed to us by the infamous washing of the feet. Our acts of service on Holy Thursday set the tone for the days to come. Take turns washing one another’s feet. Serve a simple meal with no bells and whistles. Break out the candles and use them for your table. Switch up the house and child duties to show the kids that mom doesn’t always have to cook dinner and dad can step away as the resident teeth brusher. Choose a story or two that your kids enjoyed a year or two ago. It’s amazing how beauty and peace can be found in the simplest of things.

Good Friday

This somber day is one where we take it slow. The kids are off from school, your partner is off from work, and if possible, we will experience the living Stations of the Cross at church. Although our home parish is not participating this year, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is offering a self-led, activity-centered, multi-generational Stations of the Cross adventure from March 29th– April 3rd. You can find more information at https://www.slecsa.org/ or contact Suzanna Green at [email protected]

The Stations of the Cross mark the journey Jesus took from his sentencing to his death to his placement in the tomb. If the 14 stations are too much for one afternoon, take a few per day that ultimately leaves you with the last station occurring on Saturday. Once again, how deep you go with this day depends on the ages of your children and their understanding of the season. In years past, coloring pages and pre-made booklets help to guide our kids’ understanding of the stations, along with dyeing Easter eggs.

I’m not usually a fan of purchasing printables online, but this was well worth the $4.00 and can be reused, stored easily, and ideal for indoors and out.

Some of our favorite coloring pages come from this website.

Parishes here in San Antonio have taken to streaming daily masses, reciting the Rosary, taking us through the Stations of the Cross, and affording us the chance to attend Sunday services via the internet or in person at limited capacity. I’ve listed a few local churches below but you can search for your home parish’s streaming capabilities via their website or through YouTube and Facebook (it seems that many are appearing on those outlets for resolution and clarity purposes).

St. Pious Catholic Church – 3303 Urban Crest, 78209

https://stpiusxsa.org/

St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church – 1602 Thousand Oaks Drive, 78232

https://www.stmarkevangelist.com/

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church – 600 Oblate Drive, 78216

https://www.facebook.com/blessedcatholiccommunity/

St. Mary Magdalen – 1710 Clower Street, 78201

https://www.facebook.com/CatholicChurch/

St. Gerard’s Catholic Church – 1523 Iowa Street, 78203

https://www.facebook.com/StGerardChurchSA/

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Washington D.C.

(although not local, the Shrine’s streamed services are just so clear and beautiful)

https://www.nationalshrine.org/mass/

Daily Mass Readings – I like the ease of this site and how I can access any week’s reading

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040420.cfm

If you are looking for easy crafts to keep those bunny loving kiddos happy, wrangle them together for a family game of Easter Bingo.

Or look no further than Alamo City Moms for tried and true egg printables that kids of all ages will enjoy decorating.

Our homes are different, our schedules askew, and most of our time is probably spent trying to figure out how to accomplish tasks X, Y, and Z without losing marbles A, B, and C. And you know what, Mamas? It’s okay. Send your kids on an extended Easter egg hunt. Allow them to help you prepare soup and make extra to leave on a neighbor’s doorstep. Go on a pantry hunt and find something your family can spare for those in need. Create memories within the messes as we take this week to think about new life and new beginnings. Let’s show thankfulness when we can and give grace when we don’t want to; for darkness only lasts but a few days.

Kathy
I’m a native Pittsburgher through and through, but transplanted to Texas with my superhero cape to teach elementary school. I am a proud Mama to a spirited girl (2011) and a laid back boy (2014) who keep my days full of laughter, Legos, books, and more stuffed animals than should be allowed. As a stay-at-home Mama, I am constantly yearning for new ways to engage their minds, hands, and bodies with the city and community around them, while stealing a run and a cup of coffee or two. I can be found at the local library for storytime; the park for an afternoon swing; either of their schools to lend a helping hand; and/or the local splash pad to escape the heat. I’m not hard to miss due to the donning of Steelers gear in the fall and Penguins attire in the spring. I welcome and thrive on new conversations, friendships, and methods of rearing little humans. Favorite Restaurant: Paloma Blanca Favorite Landmark: Any of the Missions around San Antonio Favorite San Antonio Tradition: It's a tie between The Texas Cavaliers River Parade and The Battle of Flowers Parade, both occurring during Fiesta. Viva!