Suffice it to say, this just might be the strangest Holy Week most of us will ever experience. I know that some of our parishioners know people who have been directly impacted by the coronavirus. But even for those who haven’t, the experience of being under a stay-at-home order is a drastically different experience for most of us.
From a faith standpoint, it seems even more disheartening that this experience includes Holy Week. Holy Week is really a climax of the liturgical year. Especially if we’ve been really committed to our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, Holy Week is a time when we Catholics have our game faces on! We begin the week with Palm Sunday, recalling the Lord’s Passion and receiving blessed palms that we keep in our homes for the whole year. And that all leads up to the true high point of the year, the Sacred Triduum, where we journey with the Lord from the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, through His Passion and death on Good Friday, all leading up to His triumphant Resurrection from the dead at the Easter Vigil and the other Easter Masses. From the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, to the veneration of the cross on Good Friday, to the baptism of our elect at the Easter Vigil, there are so many things that we will miss out on. We could certainly be excused for thinking that it doesn’t “feel” like Holy Week.
But (without trying to make too much lemonade, here…) perhaps this situation is an opportunity to enter into Holy Week in a new and different way. Perhaps the feeling of being stuck in our homes can help us understand how the Apostles felt, fearfully locked in the Upper Room. Perhaps watching the panic and confusion in the world around us can help us to appreciate just how chaotic and disorienting it was as Jesus carried His Cross through the crowded streets of the city. Perhaps seeing people searching for creative ways to help others can help us marvel at the simple acts of kindness shown to Jesus during His Passion by people like St. Veronica. But most importantly, seeing how Jesus triumphed over a situation that seemed completely hopeless and final, can help us to look at the current state of our world with hope.
While I can’t guarantee that this is the experience you’ll have of Holy Week, I sincerely hope that it is. Rather than missing what we can’t do during Holy Week, I encourage you to dive deeply into what you can do, walking with Christ as the sufferings of His Passion mirror the sufferings of our world right now. If we can do that, then maybe this Holy Week – as strange as it is – can be fruitful in ways that we never would have been able to predict.