The week between Palm Sunday and Easter is what we, as Catholics, call Holy Week. It is the holiest week of the year because it is jam packed with commemoration of our Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection. Each aspect of it is loaded with rich meaning and grace. Palm Sunday marks the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when people laid palm branches on the ground before Him and shouts of “Hosanna!” greeted Him. Holy Thursday celebrates the Last Supper where the Eucharist and the priesthood were instituted. Good Friday remembers the Lord’s suffering and death for us. On Holy Saturday, we wait with the whole earth in remembrance of Jesus’ descent among the dead. Of course, Easter Sunday is the celebration of His glorious and awesome resurrection from the dead. It is this week for which we have prepared throughout the 40 days of Lent. We take time throughout Lent each year to journey with Him into the desert through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving so that we can empty ourselves and have greater capacity for Him... or did we?
We take time throughout Lent each year to journey with Him into the desert through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
If you’re facing the upcoming Holy Week like at times I have - with a sense of guilt or regret for somehow zoning out on Lent, it’s not too late! The absolute best example of this is the Good Thief who tradition calls St. Dismas, because his name wasn’t actually mentioned in the Gospels. The name Dismas means sunset, and boy did he show up at the final hour - literally! He was one of the two condemned to die at the time of Jesus. He’s the one who simply showed faith in Jesus’ mercy and goodness by asking Him to remember him when He came into His kingdom. He was hanging there crucified with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, but unlike the other thief who blasphemed the Lord, he gave Jesus his will. Even though it was the last moments of his life and he couldn’t give the Lord much time, he gave what he could – all that the Lord really wants – a heart open to receive His unearnable love and mercy. What St. Dismas got in return was a guarantee from the Lord of an eternity with Him in paradise.
He gave what he could, a heart open to receive His unearnable love and mercy.
If that doesn’t take the pressure off, I don’t know what can. If you ate chocolate when you wished you hadn’t, forgot to pray the Rosary when you promised you would, or didn’t give to the charity that you meant to, know that Holy Week is every bit still for you because the Lord is totally FOR you. I’ve had Holy Weeks when I sat in the pew with the feeling that I hadn’t earned the right to participate in the liturgies as much as others who’d been faithful to their Lenten journey. It led me to turn in on myself and buy into the lie that somehow I should’ve earned my ticket to Holy Week. I felt like I shouldn’t be showing up empty-handed, asking to belong, then I had several years of my life when I was away from the Church because of my own brokenness and confusion. Returning to the Church was scary because I felt like I’d lost my membership to a ‘good kids' club’. Thankfully, the Lord’s grace was so undeniably calling me back to the Church that I came back despite my fear. The lesson I learned was that there is no ‘good kids' club’, only ‘kids of a good God club’. It’s His club and we’re all invited. That same lesson applies to Holy Week. It’s not our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that would’ve put the holy in holy week. It is His infinite, ever-present, personal choice of each one of us to receive Him as He empties Himself for us. You’re not too late!
The Lord’s grace was so undeniably calling me back to the Church that I came back despite my fear.