Though Holy Week (which happens this year from Palm Sunday on April 14 to Easter Sunday on April 22) is synonymous with vacations as schools and businesses are closed in observance of the Lenten season, it can still be, as Pope Francis said, “a privileged time when we are called to draw near to Jesus.”
Make this holiest of holidays truly meaningful with My Pope’s Do’s and Don’ts for the Holy Week:
DO observe fasting and abstinence.
Fasting (consuming one main meal, two smaller meals, and a snack) is practiced on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Abstinence (refraining from eating meat) is practiced on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays of Lent. Both are forms of penance and sacrifice that help us turn inward and reflect.
DON’T limit it to meat dishes.
Take a break from social media, shopping sprees, and spending late nights out. Holding off temporarily on the things you love replicates, even in a small way, the suffering Jesus endured in his 40-day retreat to the desert.
DO start a tradition.
Embark on a Visita Iglesia on Maundy Thursday and pray the Stations of the Cross (or a special intention for a loved one) in each of the seven churches you visit. Attend a midnight or pre-dawn Salubong to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ in Easter. Whatever you choose, make it something to look forward to every year no matter where you are.
DON’T do it to be on trend.
Planning to walk barefoot to Antipolo’s Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage for bragging rights and Facebook likes? Save yourself the trouble. Devotees do it as a way to atone for their sins or remind themselves of Christ’s own suffering. If that’s not what’s in your heart, you’re missing the point altogether.
DO spend time with loved ones.
With school and jobs taking up most of their time, families can only plan their vacations around Holy Week. Make it a simple yet significant bonding experience. Tell stories and pray in the car during long road trips, prepare a meal together and bless the food before eating, and organize an easy walk in the morning or after dinner.
DON’T forget the reason for the season.
Just because you’re at the beach or in some foreign country doesn’t mean you can’t reflect on the significance of Lent. Start and end each day by giving thanks—for the chance to be with those you love and the blessing of rest and relaxation in beautiful surroundings. As Lolo Kiko reminds in his message for Lent 2019, “Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain!”