how do you spend your holy week essay

How I spent my Holy Week

how do you spend your holy week essay

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What is “Holy Week” and what should Christians do to properly recognize and participate in it?

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Holy Week stands at the head of our calendar, the holiest week of the entire liturgical year. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and continues until Easter Sunday. It celebrates the Paschal Mystery, the passion and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and his victorious resurrection, his triumph over sin and death and his glorification by his Father.

Palm-Passion Sunday  is a dual feast, Palm Sunday because palm branches are blessed and carried in procession to commemorate the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem, and Passion Sunday because the Passion Narrative is proclaimed. It is the only Sunday when two separate gospels are read. The Passion is the longest Sunday gospel of the year. The Mass has two jarringly different moods, jubilation at the outset, then lamentation. Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem was exuberant as the people joyfully cheered Hosanna to greet him, but moments later all is somber, first with the Suffering Servant who gave his back to those who beat him (Is 50:6), then with Jesus who obediently accepted death on a cross (Phil 2:8), and then with the Passion and his agony, scourging, and crucifixion (Mt 26:14-27:66).

Symbols . The primary symbol for Palm Sunday is palms, a sign that the people regarded Jesus as their victorious king. There are many symbols for the Passion:  a single cross, three crosses, the cup of suffering, thirty pieces of silver, a lantern, swords and clubs, a blade and a severed ear, handcuffs or shackles, a rooster crowing, a scourging pillar, whips, a crown of thorns, a reed, three nails, hammer and pincers, a rope, the INRI inscription, a sprig of hyssop, three dice, a tunic, a lance, a ladder, an urn for spices, a shroud or burial linens, and a skull.

Discipleship Action Items . Take some palms home and use them to venerate a crucifix or decorate a statue, picture, or sacred object. Go off by yourself to re-read some or all of the Passion and meditate on it. If there are others at home, discuss what it would have been like to have been part of the Palm Sunday procession or to have been standing along the Way of the Cross as Jesus passed by or at Calvary when Jesus was crucified.

The Easter Triduum . The Triduum is the most solemn moment of the church year. It lasts three days. It begins on Holy Thursday evening with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, continues with the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and reaches its culmination with the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, and it ends with Evening Prayer late Easter Sunday afternoon.

Discipleship Action Item . These days are the “high holy days” of our Christian faith, and as Jews would stream to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover in the Temple, ideally Catholics would stream to their local churches to celebrate these sacred mysteries with their parish communities. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil are not holy days of obligation, but if there ever was a time that we should want to go to church, it would be for these three holy days. Triduum is the moment to place other things on hold while our faith gets top priority.

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Fasting, Part Two:    The Triduum Fast . With the arrival of Holy Thursday, the forty days of Lent and its discipline are over. Whatever a person’s special program was for Lent, whether it was to give something up, add extra prayers, do good deeds, or share alms, the program is done, but one must not relax too quickly. As soon as the forty-day Lenten fast ends, a new three-day fast begins, The Triduum Fast, a period of even more intense self-denial in immediate preparation for the greatest feast of all, Easter. It is customary to extend the Lenten discipline three additional days. Many decide to make one or more keys additions such as a holy hour, a visit to church, an extended period of silence, no TV, and three days of fasting from physical food. It also involves a spiritual fast, Good Friday from the Mass, but with the reception of the Eucharist, and Holy Saturday, the deepest fast of all, when not only is there no Mass, it is the only day that the Church foregoes reception of the Eucharist.

Holy Thursday . The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The Mass recounts the establishment of the Jewish feast of Passover; and it commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood, and the footwashing. John’s placement of the footwashing where the other evangelists place the Last Supper conveys his belief that the real presence of Christ is found not only in the Eucharist but in service. Jesus gave us his  mandatum  or mandate:  “You ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you an example. As I have done, so you should also do” (Jn 13:14,15). Jesus is made present when disciples put aside their prideful aspirations, humble themselves, and serve one another, even to the point of doing a menial task joyfully.

Symbols . The symbols of the footwashing are a basin, water pitcher, and towel; the symbols of the Eucharist are a host and a chalice, wheat and grapes, a loaf or basket of bread and a jug of wine, and five loaves and two fish; and the symbols of the priesthood are a stole, a book of the gospels, a host and a chalice, and a censer.

Discipleship Action Items . If your parish offers a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament after Holy Thursday Mass, consider taking advantage of the opportunity. Offer a prayer that your priest might be devoted to the Eucharist and a humble servant. Be on the lookout for someone who might need assistance, and gladly help without drawing attention to yourself.

Good Friday . The celebration of the Lord’s Passion is a somber liturgy with three major parts:  the proclamation of the Passion, the veneration of the Cross, and the reception of Holy Communion. In addition, there is an extended set of General Intercessions with ten petitions for some of the most important concerns for the Church and the world.

Symbols . The symbol of Good Friday is the crucifix, a cross with a  corpus  or body of the crucified Jesus. Other artistic forms of the cross are also commonly used. For the symbols of the Passion, see Passion Sunday above.

Discipleship Action Items . It is worthwhile to set aside some silent time, particularly between the hours of 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m. Be sure that at least one crucifix is prominently displayed in the home, because veneration of the cross is not just for Good Friday, but for every day. It is an ideal day to offer Jesus a prayer of thanks for all he suffered on our behalf, and to renew our pledge to avoid the sins that we have committed that put him on the cross.

The Easter Vigil . Weeks of fasting and self-denial are directed toward the highest point of the church year, the Easter Vigil, the feast of the resurrection. It ranks first because our entire faith hinges on it. As Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:17). But the pillar of our faith is that “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20), and in this firm conviction the Church rejoices with all of the energy it can muster:  Alleluia! The Easter Vigil begins with the Service of Light, the lighting of the Easter Candle and the singing of the Easter Proclamation, the Exsultet. Then after an extended Liturgy of the Word, the Vigil continues with the Liturgy of Baptism during which the Litany of Saints is sung, the water of the font is blessed, baptismal promises are made, the candidates are baptized, and for the adults, confirmation is received. The Vigil concludes with the Liturgy of the Eucharist and first Holy Communion for the newly initiated members.

Symbols . The primary symbol of the Vigil is the Easter Candle, also known as the Paschal or Christ Candle, as well as the symbols for baptism:  water, a seashell, the font, oil, the white baptismal garment, the baptismal candle, a dove, and three interlocking fish which represent the Trinitarian formula.

Easter Sunday . Easter Sunday is the daytime celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord. The congregation is jubilant over the risen Christ and the triumph of his most holy Cross. The church is festively decorated. The vestments are white and gold. The Glory to God and the Alleluia are restored. The Creed is replaced with the renewal of baptismal promises, followed by a sprinkling rite. The church resounds with a joyful sound:   Jesus Christ is risen today! Alleluia!  

Symbols . Easter symbols include the Easter Cross, a plain cross without a  corpus  draped in flowing white or gold fabrics; three empty crosses; lilies; the palm of victory; an empty tomb; an empty sarcophagus; an empty casket; a pile of burial wrapping; the hand of God; the morning sun; a butterfly; a cracked Easter egg; a trumpet; a Phoenix; pomegranates; a peacock; and the Easter Candle.

Discipleship Action Items . Great news cannot be contained:  share the Good News with someone! Jesus preached love, and he died out of love for us. On Easter Sunday go out of your way to love someone with all your might, because where there is love, there is the risen Christ!

© 2011, Rev. Michael A. Van Sloun Used with permission.

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From Palms to the Passion: What Happens on the Days of Holy Week?

Priest holds palms on Palm Sunday

As the final stretch of Lent unfolds, Catholics worldwide enter the sacred time of Holy Week. This climactic phase is more than a culmination; it is a journey through the heart of the Catholic faith, retracing the footsteps of Jesus Christ in his last days. It is a time for prayer , reflection and repentance. 

Why is Holy Week Important? 

Holy Week is the sacred time of the year that leads up to the holiest day in the Christian calendar: Easter Sunday. During Holy Week we commemorate the final days of Jesus’ life on earth. This week is filled with penance and preparation. Our hearts are waiting with great anticipation for the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, but we must first endure the sorrow of his crucifixion. Holy Week is a time to clear our schedules of unnecessary activities and our minds of unnecessary worries. Our hearts and minds should be fixed on Jesus and journeying with him.

What Do You Do During Holy Week? 

Holy Week is a time to further commit to our Lenten sacrifices and do something extra to encounter Christ more closely. Through Masses and powerful liturgies, the Church offers us many opportunities to experience the power of Holy Week. 

It is the time to intensify our prayers and sacrifices out of love of God and love of our neighbor. During each day of Holy Week, let us find ways to draw closer to one another in our love for Jesus, immerse ourselves in the scriptures and rediscover the things that truly matter in our lives. 

Exploring the Days of Holy Week

Palm sunday.

The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest” (Mt 21:8-9).

The celebration of Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and ushers in Holy Week. However, amidst the celebration we are reminded of Jesus’ upcoming suffering. With one of the longest Gospels of the liturgical year, taking us through the entire Passion of our Lord, Palm Sunday sets the stage for the coming days when we commemorate Jesus’ journey to the cross. We are reminded on this day, in particular, of the crowds that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with great celebration. These are the same crowds whom we will see in just a few days calling for his crucifixion.

The priest will wear red garments to celebrate Mass on Palm Sunday as a sign of Jesus’ coming sacrifice. Consider participating in the liturgy by also dressing in red and following along in your missalette during the reading of the Lord’s Passion.

People holding palms on palm sunday

Monday of Holy Week

Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. 

Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” … So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me” (Jn 12:3-5, 7-8).

The beginning of Holy Week is a wonderful time to refocus our hearts and minds and reflect on our Lenten observances. Even if we have not followed our Lenten commitments perfectly, Holy Week is the perfect opportunity to recommit to penance and finish out the season focused on spiritual growth. 

Make time to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and prepare your heart, mind and soul for the Resurrection of Christ. There are also personal ways to clear your heart this week. Perhaps give up watching TV and instead spend an extra few minutes in prayer each day or reflecting on the daily readings.

Tuesday of Holy Week

“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you” (Jn 13:31-33).

House cleaning is a Holy Week tradition that takes place in many Catholic communities. A clean house is seen as an outward sign of the inner newness of the soul of the family. Cleaning can be completed by Wednesday so that the family may fully enter into the fullness of the Easter Triduum without worrying about chores and checklists. Consider spending some time this week going through your closets, drawers and cupboards, and tidy your living spaces to create a welcoming environment for the Risen Lord.

Spy Wednesday

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over (Mt 26: 14-16).

Traditionally, this is the day Judas betrayed Jesus and marks the turn of the Lenten season. From this moment, Judas is looking for the opportunity to hand Jesus over to the high priest. Judas’ heart is hardened by greed, and we see how his sin leads to his betrayal of our Lord. We are reminded today that it is because of all our sins that Jesus suffered on the cross. 

Finish housework and make sure you have everything you need for the next few days. Today is the day we finish preparing our homes and hearts for the Easter Triduum. The next three days should be treated as semi-holidays so that we may fully enter into the Passion, death and Resurrection of Christ. This may be a good day to finalize your meal plans, grocery shop and pick out your Easter Sunday outfit.

The Start of the Easter Triduum: Holy Thursday

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’  and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (Jn 13:12-15). 

On Holy Thursday we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist, a joyous cause for celebration. As Jesus prepares for his Passion, he leaves behind the ultimate gift, the ability for all of us to receive him while on earth. 

The Holy Thursday Mass, also known as the Mass of the Last Supper, marks the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. The Mass typically includes the ritual of the washing of the feet, mirroring Jesus’ act of humility in washing the feet of his disciples, symbolizing the call to serve one another. Consider attending the Mass of the Last Supper this year and ponder the gift of the Eucharist. 

washing of feet on holy thursday

Good Friday

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And [Pilate]he said to them, “Behold, the man!” When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”

Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.”

So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle (Jn 19:5-6, 17-18).

Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion and death of our Lord, is a solemn day of fasting and reflection. There is no consecration of the Eucharist on this day, but parishes typically will hold stations of the cross and a service to venerate the cross.

Spend some time in quiet reflection today. Try observing silence in the home (not speaking, listening to music, watching TV, etc.) from noon until 3 p.m., traditionally the hours our Lord hung on the cross. If you can, schedule some time for prayer during the 3 o’clock hour, the hour Jesus died on the cross. Consider praying the  Stations of the Cross or meditating on  Our Lord’s Passion .

Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday the Lord descends into hell, and we keep watch for the expectant rising of our Savior. It is a vigil, a day of waiting, prayer and anticipation. There are no Masses on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil celebration in the evening. There is a great silence and stillness on earth today.

Some churches are staying open during this time for prayer. Check with your local parish and, if possible, stop by and spend some time simply sitting and waiting. Be still and present with Jesus, even in silence. If it isn’t possible for you to visit a church, spend some time in quiet prayer, meditating on Jesus in the tomb and being present in the hopeful anticipation of Easter.

Growing in Faith this Holy Week

Holy Week is an opportunity to grow spiritually and reflect upon the immense sacrifice Jesus endured for us. His death and Resurrection have given us new life. Let us spend time during this Holy Week deepening our prayer and growing in closeness with our savior.

Join us in praying for our brothers and sisters around the world during this Holy Week by joining in the  Global Church Novena . Unite yourself to the universal Church during this sacred week as we collectively journey through Christ's Passion and into his glorious Resurrection together. 

Pray the Global Church Novena


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Publications, the end of lent: how do we celebrate holy week with holiness.

sister Laura hugs a member of the GU cheer squad before a game

Happy Holy Week! We find ourselves in the most emotionally charged week of the liturgical year, reflecting on the betrayal, death and resurrection of Jesus, hoping and praying that God gives us the grace to experience all of that and feel a closeness with Christ. I am struck with a feeling of great anticipation and joy every year during Holy Week. The celebration of Easter is incredible and very moving to me, but I think that is because I, living in the 21 st century, know the end of the story. Jesus rose and is alive and well in the world. For the people of that time, however, they lived in 3 days of turmoil, grief, and confusion after a few days of terrifying events. How then do we celebrate and appreciate the full experience of this week in all of its many emotions while knowing the greatest twist at the end? And how do we live holy lives in order to continue our pursuit of Jesus and in our world where holiness can be hard to find?

In the Catholic Church we look to those who have lived lives of extraordinary holiness that are venerated as saints. Many of the most influential people in the world have done extraordinary things that have led them to lives of spreading the good news of Christ to the world. Thomas Merton spoke best about his view of sainthood and the importance of living a life of holiness. He said, “For me, to be a saint means to be myself.” This is such a gift to think about sainthood in this way, being able to see ourselves as worthy of sainthood by simply living the way God created us to live. As God continues to create us in an ever-changing world, we are continually invited to be in deeper relationship with Christ and a continual exploration of the deepest purpose God created us with. With an eye towards strengthening that relationship with Christ, Spokane Bishop Thomas Daly offered three steps to holiness in our everyday lives. The first is true self-knowledge. We must be able to take a look at ourselves in an honest way, with all of our faults and successes and know that every part of ourselves are a beloved creation from God. The second step is we must be humble. True humility comes with a great surrender we must have to the will of God and our limitations as humans but a true appreciation for the freedom God has given us to live in relationship with Him. This freedom is a gift we are call to use in the purest pursuit of truth, love, and justice. The last step is to have a sense of humor to be able to see the world with joy and light despite anything else that is happening around us.

I think the best way to summarize these things and to gain a true experience of Holy Week is to be authentically ourselves. We are all created by a loving God and we do great service to God by appreciating and loving all of His great creation; ourselves very much included. Holiness does not have to come with solemnity and quiet reverence but it comes with being true to our hearts. So, allow yourself to experience all of the humanness God has gifted to you; the joy, sorrow, excitement, grief, joy, pain, love, and peace. Allow yourself grace to continue to fail knowing that you are still perfect in the eyes of God. Experience this week as it comes to you and find as many ways to encounter Jesus alive in the world as you can. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8). Happy Holy Week and let us rejoice in the light of the Lord. Amen.

Jesus on cross

Holy Week has nearly arrived. For many of us, this comes as a welcome relief. Sacrifice, mortification, and suffering do not come easily. We’d instead carry on in our comfortable lives than stretch ourselves until it hurts for the love of Him who was stretched on a Cross for us. As we prepare our souls to accept and surrender to the weight of His love before entering into the lighthearted celebration of the Easter season, it behooves us to pause each day with some degree of solemn appreciation for Him who was glorified by way of surrender and death.

Why is Holy Week a time of reflection?

Lent is a time of spiritual renewal and a time to prepare ourselves for Easter Sunday. Our Lord is with us, always forgiving and loving all with no exceptions. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

The Easter season, especially Holy Week, gives us the opportunity for serious reflection. We know that Jesus died for us, only to give each of us new life. Easter can be a time of renewed commitment to our Heavenly Father. May our Risen Lord continue to inspire each of us.

Holy Week is also a time of forgiveness as we are preparing for the celebration of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Father. It is a time to embrace our mistakes and shortcomings and forgive all who have offended us. Colossians 3:12 tells us, “We are the people of God; He loved us and chose us for His own. So then, we must clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

Matthew 6:14-15 reminds us, “Let us not forget that “if we forgive others the wrongs they have done to us, our Father in heaven will also forgive us. But if we do not forgive others, then the Father will not forgive the wrongs we have done.”

We must also take this as an opportunity to reflect with God about ourselves. We can talk and reconcile with God through sacrament and prayers and reflect on what we have done. In such a way, we will be prepared for our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming as He is seated at the Father’s right hand.

Through reflection, we are also offering ourselves to God. But “if we are about to offer our gift to God at the altar and there we remember that our brother has something against us, leave our gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with our brother, and then come back and offer our gift to God,” as seen in Matthew 5:23-24. We should take this season to put the value of forgiveness and reflection in our hearts and our souls. Let us put ourselves in the presence of the Lord so that someday we will be able to enter His Kingdom.

Holy Week reflections.

Waiting is likely one of the most challenging aspects of the human condition. No one enjoys waiting, in traffic, in the waiting room at a doctor’s office, for an important phone call, or a long-awaited visit with a long-lost friend or relative. We despise waiting, whether it be for dreaded news or something joyful. We’d rather know right away what’s going to happen and when.

Waiting for God is a different matter, however. God often asks us to wait for painfully extended periods without reprieve. Holy Week reminds us that waiting is part of our own passion experience. We wait for death, but ultimately, we wait for what comes after death: new life. To become a new creation in Christ, we must undergo many trials that we’d instead bypass altogether. These are necessary, vital components to entering the joy of eternal bliss.

We can wait for God with courage and fidelity, regardless of how long He asks us to hold off on taking action. This week especially, we can use our time meditating on Jesus’ Passion for growing in patience and anticipating the joy of resurrection with hope that lingers while suffering.

It’s an incredibly humbling privilege and honor to bear a child in your womb, especially when you know that it is truly God who ordained this little soul to be formed from a tiny seed.

If we consider that our beginnings were fashioned in our mothers’ wombs, we might realize that life itself would be impossible for us without God sustaining us. There are so many statistical reasons why our lives are a miracle from the very beginning, one of which is that the formation of a tiny baby is incredibly fragile and prone to death. God has given us strength from our mother’s womb, from the beginning of our lives.

Knowing this, then, we should not falter in trusting God. He ordained our lives for a specific purpose. We are called to something that only we can do, and we must cleave to the hope that He will fulfill the work He has begun in us.

Jesus was born so that He would die for us. That is the sole reason the Father sent Him to earth. We always think of Lent as the most appropriate time to meditate about Jesus’ Passion, but we seldom give it much thought throughout the rest of the liturgical calendar.

It seems fitting that we should, in some way, celebrate Lent all year long. It should be very much a part of our everyday prayer to recall with fond appreciation and immense love that Jesus was born so that we might be delivered to eternal life. And life has a high price. As the “appointed time draws near” for entering into Jesus’ death, we might do well to ask Him how we can console His Heart every day from this point onward. It is our gift of gratitude for the price of love.

Holy Week is a solemn week of extra prayer and fasting. It involves the Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. During those three days, we recall, and through our prayer participate in, Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples, his arrest, trial, and execution, the long day of silence (Holy Saturday) while his body rested in the grave, and his Resurrection on Easter. The many readings of Scripture surrounding the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ give us a lot of material for reflection and prayer.

how do you spend your holy week essay

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Your two-minute guide to Holy Week

Heard of Holy Week, but not really sure what happens in it or what it’s all about? Discover the key events – and the underlying message – of Holy Week with this quick summary.

What is Holy Week?

An important week-long event in the Christian calendar, Holy Week celebrates the death and miraculous rising of Jesus Christ, a Jewish teacher said to have lived roughly 2,000 years ago. 

But are there any signs that show he really was a spiritual teacher back then? Explore the evidence for yourself with:  Man or Myth? Is there evidence that Jesus existed?

So, what days fall in Holy Week?

The key days of Holy Week are:

Palm Sunday

Maundy thursday, good friday, holy saturday, easter sunday.

But what are the days in Holy Week all about – and what events do they represent?

how do you spend your holy week essay

Falling a week before Easter Sunday, this day celebrates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel. By this point, Jesus had made quite the name for himself. And, according to the book of Matthew, people flocked to see this influential teacher, preacher and so-called miracle maker:

‘A large crowd of people spread their cloaks on the road while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds walking in front of Jesus and those walking behind began to shout, “Praise to David’s Son! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God!”’ (Matthew 21.8–9).

As the week unfolds, you’ll discover that not everyone felt the same way about Jesus. But, at this point, he had a crowd of supporters, who laid down clothing to create the ancient equivalent of a ‘red carpet moment’ for him as he entered the city, waving what are traditionally portrayed as palm leaves (hence, the name.)

Familiar with the practice of Communion? It’s inspired by the second major event of Holy Week: Maundy Thursday. 

But what happened on this day?

Even though, just a few chapters earlier, the Bible writers describe Jesus’ warm welcome into Jerusalem, tensions were rising.

how do you spend your holy week essay

As Jesus continued to challenge the status quo, religious leaders who’d been looking for a chance to arrest him found their opportunity. In exchange for 30 pieces of silver, one of Jesus’ close followers, Judas Iscariot, agreed to reveal Jesus’ identity to a group led by chief priests so they could arrest him. His arrest took place shortly after he’d shared a Passover meal with his close friends and followers.

But why is it called Maundy Thursday?

It’s taken from the Latin word,  mandatum , which means ‘mandate’ – AKA ‘command’. This new mandate relates to the Christian practice of Communion, when people share bread and wine in a symbolic act that mirrors the way Jesus shared this supper with his friends, but also represents Jesus’ own sacrificial act, which is remembered on Good Friday.

Familiar with the phrase about there being two absolute certainties in life? The Bible shows that taxes were a major part of ancient Middle Eastern life too, but it tells a different story about death. And the depictions of Jesus’ life are central to understanding the theme of death within this epic collection of writings. 

Sources from the time say that Jesus was put on trial and sentenced to death for making claims about who he was, and how people should live – claims some of his contemporaries agreed with, but others felt threatened by.

how do you spend your holy week essay

But why is a day about death called Good Friday?

It might be the last name you’d choose, but the word ‘good’ hints at the deeper meaning behind this event. Within Christian teachings, Jesus is good news – even through his death, which is seen a sacrificial act that comes with the promise of new life.

It's easy to view this as a bleak narrative about death, but the story doesn’t end here. And, as the story unfolds, death is replaced with life, and loss is replaced with hope.

How do you feel when you’re waiting for something? Are you filled with nerves, excitement, or a mixture of both?

For Christians, Holy Saturday is a day of waiting. The Bible writers didn’t spend much time explaining what happened the day after Jesus’ death, but they say he was buried in a tomb that was sealed with a large stone. It would have been a day of mourning for his family and friends.

how do you spend your holy week essay

Today, Holy Saturday is celebrated in different ways within the Christian calendar; some mark it with church services while others set out time for quiet reflection.

how do you spend your holy week essay

What gives you hope, even in the darkest times?

For Christians, Easter Sunday is one source of hope.

New Testament writings tell the story of two women – both called Mary, who knew Jesus well – who go to visit his grave. They're said to have experienced a violent earthquake before being visited by an angel, who told them that the tomb was empty: Jesus had risen from the dead.

Naturally, they were terrified and confused. But biblical writings say they then met Jesus for themselves, alive and well as the  angel had said. They shared the news with Jesus’ closest followers, known as the disciples, who responded similarly to how the two women had at first; they were confused, and couldn’t believe it.

However, over time, Jesus appeared to them personally, including when two more of his followers were on their way to visit a village called Emmaus, documented in  Luke 24 . After this, the disciples grew to believe in the seemingly impossible: a miraculous rising.

The high point in the Easter story, this day continues to offer a message of hope to people today. After all, if a man can be brought back to life, is anything really beyond repair?

But what about Easter Monday?

You might be wondering: isn’t Easter Monday a part of Holy Week? And what’s said to have happened to Jesus on Easter Monday anyway?

Traditionally, this day isn’t viewed as a part of Holy Week, despite the fact that it’s known as ‘Easter Monday’, and is a bank holiday in lots of countries (acknowledging that Easter falls on a Sunday).

In the Bible, the events of Easter Monday – the day after the resurrection of Jesus – aren’t described. At least not in a day-by-day account. Instead, we get a description of the next 40 days, when Jesus is said to have lived alongside his friends before returning to heaven.

Why is Holy Week so important?

So, what’s so significant about Holy Week?

For Christians, this is the most important week in the Church calendar. Everything leads up to this event. It marks Jesus’ final days, his death, and his resurrection, a miraculous event that lies at the heart of the Christian faith. 

But what does this ancient message of hope have to say to today?  Rediscover the Easter story  for yourself.

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Your Guide To Holy Week

Your Guide To Holy Week

In the first century, the early Christians celebrated every Sunday in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus. By the second century, they established a particular day for the celebration of the resurrection, which was connected to the Jewish Passover.

Their observance began at sundown on Saturday evening. They called it the Night of the Great Vigil, a time of remembrance and expectation that lasted throughout the night so they could sing “Alleluia” at dawn on Easter morning. It was during the Night of the Great Vigil that new Christians were received into the Church.

By the fourth century, it became customary for people to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem to celebrate what was called the “Great Week,” which included Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. The diary of a woman named Egeria in 381 contains the first accounts of the special rites, prayers and devotions that took place in Jerusalem during the Great Week.

Over time, the practice of observing Holy Week spread throughout the Christian world, with prayers, historical re-enactments and special liturgies. During the Middle Ages, the celebration of the Easter Vigil gradually fell out of practice. The important days of the week were Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

In 1955, the Vatican re-established the Easter Vigil as an important part of Holy Week observances.

During the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the bishops called for the restoration of the early Christian rituals for receiving new Christians into the Church at the Easter Vigil. In 1988, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults was issued.

Today, Easter Vigil with the Easter fire, the lighting of the paschal candle, the reading of salvation history, the celebration of the sacraments of initiation for catechumens and renewal of baptismal promises for the faithful is once again an integral part of Holy Week celebrations.

Download the Guide to Holy Week here

Download ‘Holy Week: Simple Ways to Walk with Jesus’ pamphlet here

Holy Week quiz

How much do you remember about the people and events of Holy Week? Here’s a little quiz to test your knowledge. The answers are at the bottom of this page.

1. Where did the Agony in the Garden take place? 2. Who betrayed Jesus? 3. Who denied Jesus three times? 4. Who ordered Jesus to be scourged? 5. What criminal was released instead of Jesus? 6. How many Stations of the Cross are there? 7. How many times does Jesus fall on the way to Calvary? 8. Who helped Jesus carry his cross? 9. Who wiped the face of Jesus? 10. What did the sign on the cross say? 11. Who made arrangements for the burial of Jesus? 12. Who was the first to discover that Jesus had risen?

Answers below

12 ways to make Holy Week more meaningful

1. THINK PRAYER. If you have to work or go to school during Holy Week, think about how you can incorporate prayer breaks into each day. 2. MAKE AN ADDITIONAL SACRIFICE by fasting and abstaining from meat on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday in addition to Good Friday. 3. DON’T WATCH TELEVISION from sundown on Holy Thursday until Easter morning. 4. GO to confession. 5. SET ASIDE 10 minutes every day to read Passion accounts in the Gospels. 6. Make it a point to FORGIVE someone on Good Friday. 7. PRAY the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. 8. OFFER UP any pain or difficulties you experience during Holy Week and unite your sufferings with the pain of Christ. 9. PRAY the Stations of the Cross. 10. ATTEND all of the Triduum liturgies. 11. INVITE family members, friends and neighbors — especially people who have strayed from the church — to come to church with you. 12. VOLUNTEER to help decorate your parish on Holy Saturday for Easter.

Holy Week customs

how do you spend your holy week essay

Visiting churches: The custom of visiting several churches to say a prayer on Holy Thursday was a tradition that evolved from the practice of making pilgrimages to holy places.

how do you spend your holy week essay

New clothes: From the time of the early Christians, the newly baptized wore white garments made from new linen. In medieval times, it became a tradition for people to wear new clothes on Easter Sunday, symbolizing the “new life” that comes with the Resurrection. In some places it was believed that bad luck would come to those who could afford new Easter clothes but refused to buy them.

how do you spend your holy week essay

Blessing of Easter baskets: In many cultures, families bring food that will be eaten on Easter Sunday to church in a basket for a special blessing on Holy Saturday.

how do you spend your holy week essay

The Sacred Triduum

how do you spend your holy week essay

The Chrism Mass

During Holy Week bishops bless sacred oils in the diocesan cathedral at a special liturgy known as the Chrism Mass. The oil of chrism is used during baptisms, confirmation, ordination and the consecration of altars. The oil of catechumens is used at the Easter Vigil. The oil of the sick is used to anoint people during the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. The oils are then distributed to the parishes for sacramental celebrations throughout the year. As part of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, the renewal of priestly promises was incorporated into the Chrism Mass. The Chrism Mass is an ancient celebration that traditionally takes place on Holy Thursday morning. But in recent years, many dioceses celebrate the Chrism Mass on an evening earlier in Holy Week so that more people can attend.

Quiz answers

1. Gethsemane or the Mount of Olives 2. Judas 3. Peter 4. Pontius Pilate 5. Barabbas 6. 14 7. three 8. Simon of Cyrene 9. Veronica 10. King of the Jews 11. Joseph of Arimathea 12. Mary Magdalene

Originally appeared in Our Sunday Visitor.

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Faithful young men spend months preparing for their unique role in the community events.


Can women participate in the Holy Thursday washing of the feet?

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The Bible is far more than history. It is legendary.

Scripture’s not the complete story, but a collection of episodes from a deep tribal memory.


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The short answer is that nobody really knows.

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Favorite Easter traditions include faith, family, and food

From sunrise liturgies to lamb cakes, U.S. Catholic readers share how they celebrate.

A reflection for Easter Sunday

Father Robin Ryan, C.P. reflects on the readings for April 4, 2021.

Top Image: Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

how do you spend your holy week essay

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Why Holy Week Matters in Our Daily Work

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Meeting Jesus at the Table

What does Holy Week have to do with our wired lives? Where can our 24/7 lives intersect with the slow, significant events of Christ’s journey to the cross?

For centuries, Holy Week was the focal point of the Christian calendar. Six weeks of somber Lenten reflection culminated in a final week in which we gravely contemplated and confessed our sin, awakening on the final morn to the miracle of the resurrection.

Our culture (and the Christian subculture right along with it) tends to make a bigger deal of Christmas than Easter—even to the point of conflict as Christians rally to “keep Christ in Christmas” and mistakenly believe that a benevolent “Happy Holidays” is somehow an affront to faith. (Um, it’s not.)

What about “keeping Christ in Easter” and in the week preceding it? Do we even notice Holy Week, or is it just another work week between Palm Sunday and Easter? Most of us, unless our kids’ spring break coincides with Holy Week, will spend these “holy days” not as holidays, but going to meetings, driving carpools, writing emails and making phone calls, sometimes simultaneously! There’s not much time for contemplation.

Oh, we’ll definitely make it to church on Easter Sunday, and perhaps even on Good Friday, rushing to the service after a long day at work. But will we spend time contemplating events that seem so far removed from our lives and our experience? What does Holy Week have to do with our wired lives? Where can our 24/7 lives intersect with the slow, significant events of Christ’s journey to the cross?

Jesus Wants to Be Part of Your Busy Life

In this short series, we will look at three places where our busy lives can connect with the Holy Week story, and allow us to experience Jesus: the table, the garden and the cross.

Holy Week unfolds like a map: from Palm Sunday’s triumphal entry, to Jesus’ clearing of the temple, his prayer on the Mount of Olives, the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial, suffering and death, the agonizing silence of Holy Saturday, and the victory of the empty tomb.

Jesus, the itinerant rabbi, knew what it was like to be busy, to feel pulled in many directions by the needs of people. He didn’t carry a smart phone, but he certainly knew what it was like to be interrupted (which is, most of the time, what your smart phone does). In fact, many of his healings and miracles happened as a result of interruptions (blind men along a road, a woman tugging at his cloak, and so on). His disciples, it seems, also found themselves overscheduled and overwhelmed:

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:30-32)

“They did not even have a chance to eat…” The ancient world lacked McDonalds, so a drive-through wasn’t an option. They had no time to gather around a table, to eat and converse, to rest. This bothered Jesus then, and it bothers him now. He wants us to connect with one another—not just through Facebook, but face to face, around a table. Conversation, a simple meal, eaten slowly—this simple act nourishes and restores not only our bodies, but our souls. And it seems that Jesus and his disciples also had trouble fitting that into their schedule.

Slow Down and Share a Meal

So it’s poignant when the Passover comes that Jesus, despite the pain he knew was just around the corner, was eager to spend time at the table with his friends:

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:14-15)

Jesus takes his time at the table, telling them some encouraging words, and some difficult truth (that they would deny or betray him), but still serving them. John’s gospel says he took time for a selfless act of service, washing their feet (see John 13:12-17). He offered them bread and wine, imbuing them with a new significance. He invites them to “take and eat” and perhaps he invites us to do the same.

During Holy Week, connect with Christ’s experience by taking time for at least one meal, eaten not in your car, or over the sink, but at a table. It need not be elaborate. The point is not how much time you spend preparing it, but how you take your time eating it. Invite family or friends to sit down, to look in one another’s eyes, to speak words of encouragement and truth. Love one another with the gift of unhurried time. It’s a gift Jesus gave his disciples during Holy Week, and a way we can connect with and remember him.

Letting Go in the Garden

Chances are, you won’t have to search long to find something that overwhelms you this week, something that causes anxiety. And Jesus understands what it means to worry.

The scene has become iconic, the subject of sermons and movie scenes, preaching and paintings: Jesus on his knees in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating it out.

Where does the Garden intersect our story? How do we reach back 2000 years to a time so different from our own, and find the touchpoints that connect us with Holy Week? With these agonizing moments, specifically?

In the garden, Jesus was, in some ways, a hot mess. The text describes him as “sorrowful and troubled,” worried about what he knew was to come. He asked his disciples to pray with him, and they fell asleep, leaving him lonely. He asked God to take the cup from him, and apparently got a divine “no” on that one. If you’ve ever been worried or lonely or felt like your will differed from God’s, you can connect with Jesus in the Garden. Jesus has felt anxious, lonely. He’s wrestled with doubt. Knowing that reassures us and deepens our connection to him.

Let Go of Your Worry

Back in the early days of his ministry, Jesus confidently preached, “do not worry about your life… do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25, 34). He told his followers to trust in God’s provision for all things, to let go of worry.

Contrast that with his words in the Garden: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:38).

Do you ever feel worried? Chances are, you won’t have to search long to find something that overwhelms you this week, something that causes anxiety. What is it? Jesus understands what it means to feel worried and overwhelmed. He tells us not to worry, but he was not immune from anxiety. He completely understands and can relate to our anxious hearts.

Let Go of Your Disappointment

In the garden, Jesus asks his disciples, particularly Peter, James and John, to pray with him, to “keep watch.” Jesus makes himself vulnerable, expresses his need for companionship and support. And unfortunately, his disciples let him down.

This week, it’s quite possible that someone will disappoint you, will fail to come through when you need them. You might feel lonely and discouraged. In that moment, think of Jesus, praying in the garden while his disciples snored. He knows, firsthand, what you are experiencing. And he will never let you down.

Let Go of Your Doubt

Another time, Jesus declared: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. “(John 4:34) and “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38). Jesus talked over and over about his unity with the Father, his joyful alignment with the will of the Father.

But in the Garden, we see something unique: Jesus’ will and the Father’s will were in opposition. Luke 22:42 records Jesus’ prayer in the garden: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” This sentence contrasts two things: Jesus will, and the Father’s. It may be the only time in Scripture when Jesus, who was one with the Father, argued for a different story, held an opposing view, wanted something different. Could Jesus have been feeling some doubt in this moment? Could he have been asking some questions like, is this really necessary? Is there any other way to accomplish this? And boldly stating: I’d like another option.

This week, if you run into a situation where you want something different from what you know God wants, or feel a bit of doubt—did God really tell me to do that?—then take a moment to stop. Jesus has been in that same situation. He knows what is it like to wrestle with God, to argue with his Father, to hold the opposite view of things. He voices honest objections, but ultimately, chooses obedience. In his very human response to the promise of suffering, he questioned.

When you question, doubt or even argue with God, know that even Jesus did this, but then showed us the way. He worked through the fears and doubts and came to a place of trust. Following his example, we can do the same.

Taking Up Your Cross

At the cross, Jesus generously gave the most precious gift—his own life. And yet, we can easily take that gift for granted. There are days when we respond with indifference or entitlement.

Not long before he died, Jesus challenged his disciples to “take up their cross and follow,” or as The Message translation puts it:

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Matthew 16:24-26 MSG)

During my teenage son’s recent spring break, he and I spent three days on a “mission trip” in the city of Chicago. Teams of kids from our suburban church (located just an hour away from the city) made up beds in homeless shelters, painted walls in inner city churches, cleaned Salvation Army kitchens. We slept on a church floor at night.

One day, my team visited a ministry to teenage moms in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. Girls in the program get an apartment, childcare, help with job placement or finishing school, and a strong support system. They work toward self-sufficiency.

Don’t Miss the Chance for a Better Life

The ministry is a beacon of light in the violence-plagued neighborhood, and the staff was grateful to have a group of eager volunteers. After cleaning all morning and then eating lunch, our guide, the maintenance man for the building, took a few of us to an apartment which had housed a young mom (the ministry focuses on moms ages 13 to 19) and her two small children, ages about 6 and 18 months.

Unfortunately, she had to leave the program after she left the children alone in the apartment for more than seven hours. (Her children were placed with a family member). The apartment had been a wreck, our guide told us, “it looked like Hurricane Katrina.” We were to finish the cleanup started the previous day.

Some girls respond to the generosity of this ministry with gratitude and positive action. However, some are simply not ready to accept the responsibilities that go along with the gift.

We washed dishes and pots and pans that were crusted with grease, we scrubbed walls and the range hood and the bathroom, cleaned the windows, sanitized the beds. Many dishes and pots had to be thrown away as they were ruined by neglect.

That young girl, a mom too soon for countless reasons, wasn’t there to say thank you to the team of kids who scrubbed down the apartment, singing worship songs as they did so.

Sure, the staff of the ministry thanked us repeatedly. We were serving them, but we were also serving that teenage mom. And the ministry had tried to serve her.

How could she be so cavalier about such a generous gift—housing, help with childcare and finding a job? Why would she not respond to such a gift by at least making an effort?

Probably because she was still a child herself, and being responsible is hard. It would require self-sacrifice—putting her children first, saying no to partying and hanging with her friends. Washing her own dishes. Being unselfish.

The Incredible Opportunity of Self-Sacrifice

As we think about Holy Week, we think of the cross, where Jesus generously gave the most precious gift—his own life. And yet, truth be told, I can easily take that gift for granted. There are days when I respond with indifference or entitlement. As much as I wondered how that young mom could do what she did, I realized—I do the same with the gift that Jesus offers.

Sure, I’ll take the gift of salvation, just like she took the free apartment and free childcare. But will I take up my own cross, or will I choose comfort (or ease) over self-sacrifice? Will I do the hard work of serving others? I saw this girl’s enrollment in the program as an “incredible opportunity.” But do I see Jesus’ invitation to take up my cross as an “opportunity”?

That girl missed out on the chance to build a better life for herself and her children. Why? Because it would require hard work, sacrifice. She would have to take up her cross. Raising two babies by yourself is difficult, changing generational patterns is incredibly challenging. And I realized, I do the same thing. I miss out on abundance, on “finding my self, my true self,” because doing so requires self-sacrifice. It’s hard. It requires putting others first—even others who don’t show me any respect or gratitude.

Ironically, the way to fully embrace the gift of what Jesus gave us on the cross is to take up our own cross, to serve others without expecting anything in return. The joy I ultimately experienced in that apartment on Chicago’s west side had nothing to do with the ministry thanking me, or the young mom not thanking me. It had to do with realizing that I’m just like that young mom—but Jesus loves me anyway. Like her, I sometimes choose to avoid the hard work—but Jesus persistently invites me to the abundance that comes from self-sacrifice.

Keri Wyatt Kent is the author of ten books and co-author of six others. Through her writing and speaking, she helps people grow closer to God and live their faith. Connect with her at

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Why Is Holy Week So Significant for Christians?

Yearly patterns of worship can help to reinforce daily habits and bring them alive for the believer who tries to picture what it was like to live with Jesus, to lose him, and then to see him alive again.

Why Is Holy Week So Significant for Christians?

Easter Sunday is the most important day in the Christian calendar, celebrating the resurrection of Christ and his victory over the grave. But the week leading up to Easter is also important to many Christians.

Some denominations encourage their congregations to connect daily worship with the events, which took place on each corresponding day in the week leading up to the crucifixion.

Early History of Holy Week

The formal observation of Holy Week did not begin until after the fourth century when the Nicene Creed was established. Until that time, Saturday and Easter Sunday alone were kept holy.

Eventually, church leaders wanted to tighten believers’ focus onto a close examination of the details in Jesus’ last week from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem to his resurrection.

The Sunday before Easter is “Palm Sunday” because the people threw palm leaves onto the ground over which Jesus rode his donkey into Jerusalem. On Monday, Jesus cleansed the temple, forcing out money changers and vendors.

He also cursed a fig tree for not giving him fruit, and on Tuesday found it withered. Judas betrayed Christ on Wednesday. Maundy Thursday was the day of the Last Supper, followed by Christ’s prayer in the Garden, his arrest, his crucifixion, and the resurrection on Sunday.

Many Christian churches today, Protestant and Catholic, highlight the events leading to the cross, but this has not always been the case. What brought about change?

Holy Week Lost and Found

Many of the structural elements of what we now consider “church” came into being centuries after Christ’s death, which in turn made it easier to establish annual patterns of worship including the formal institution of Holy Week.

One commentator says that Holy Week was already honored before the Nicene Creed, but this was not a formally documented pattern.

The significant addition to Easter worship introduced at Nicaea was Lent, a 40-day period of preparation for Easter. “The council of Nicaea in 325 and the Second Vatican Council may be seen as the two poles in the history of Lent: Nicaea acknowledged its existence while Vatican II confirmed its importance .”

Between these two poles, numerous denominations and ideas about the structure of the church worship sprang up, and the Christian calendar stopped emphasizing the importance of either Lent or of Holy Week.

The intention behind reinstituting Holy Week was to encourage both joy and serious reflection, transformation, even purification of the heart in anticipation of Easter Sunday.

For a long time, religious leaders in America focused on the two special days — Easter and Christmas — until more recently when they came to believe their congregations had lost the more regular “rhythms” of faithful observance.

In the mid-20 th century, “there arose a growing movement to restore the ancient Christian Year.” This led to the restoration of Lent and newly formalized Holy Week teaching and prayers.

The Second Vatican Council instituted official spiritual revival within the Catholic church, but the revival also spread to Protestant denominations.

Avoiding the Religion of Holy Week

Not all churches emphasize Holy Week or Lent because of the fear of turning both of them into a matter of religious duty.

A believing Christian, one whose faith rests on the risen Christ and not on the hope that good behavior will save him, must think carefully about why he would decide to participate.

For example, one might go to church every night for a week to hear Scripture relating to the withered fig tree, Maundy Thursday, etc. There is always the danger of wishing to appear pious or trying to earn salvation, thereby falling into a religious trap.

One might go because of pressure from the pastor, not out of a deep desire to imagine what Christ felt like each day he walked a step closer to Calvary.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” ( James 1:27 ). The Christian “religion” often represents religious guilt and duty without love or true belief in the resurrected Jesus.

Fasting, attending church every day for a week, and knowing all the scriptures about the Last Supper, etc. are not signs of a changed heart. These actions do not glorify God. Their worth is in how such observations help one to understand the depth of Christ’s love for a fallen world.

Why Is Holy Week Important to the Believer?

The Bible is not primarily about God’s people: it is about Jesus. Palm Sunday reminds us of Old Testament prophecies, and how Jesus fulfilled them. “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey” ( Zechariah 9:9 ).

One might ponder the meaning of “temple” as portrayed in the temple cleansing and the cursing of the fig tree. Jesus “was telegraphing the upcoming transition from the temple as a place to the temple as a people,” wrote Leonard Sweet.

He “confronted a culture of consumption, reflected in that fruitless and unreproductive fig tree, with a culture of conception.” The temple cleansing and the withered fig tree reflect a cultural emphasis on materialism and production.

The Pharisees believed they were holy because they kept the law and they prayed frequently. They gave long religious speeches and performed many religious duties.

They were, however, fruitless; they were not leading people’s hearts towards their Father in Heaven and their own hearts were hard. A religious building did not make them or their transactions holy, and religion which does not lead to God is fruitless; worthless.

How Trusting God’s Timing Can Bring Unshakeable Peace

How Trusting God’s Timing Can Bring Unshakeable Peace

“He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me” ( John 13:18 ). Remarkably, Jesus foresaw Judas’ betrayal   yet still called him “disciple.” We as Christians are invited to take comfort in the depth of Christ’s willingness to forgive and are reminded by these words that God’s plan was always in place.

“His heel” takes us all the way back to Genesis 3:15 , where God promised enmity between Satan and human beings: “he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.” Yet, Judas could have repented and asked to be forgiven.

He certainly regretted his actions, but this was not enough to save him. Billy Graham wrote that “being sorry for our sins isn’t the same as repenting of them and asking God to forgive us — and Judas never took that step.”

As Graham pointed out, Peter represents the alternative. He asked Jesus to forgive him, and Christ not only did so; he gave him a tremendous responsibility: “Feed my sheep” ( John 21:17 ).

The Last Supper is remembered on Maundy Thursday, which is also the day Christians remember that Christ washed the disciples’ feet. Jesus taught that a disciples’ life was one of service to the Lord.

He himself came to obey God and save the world by giving his life. Christ taught the importance of regular repentance, but that one need not go through baptism every time he sins, stressing that the saving work would be done by him.

They ate their final meal together, where Jesus made a new covenant . “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” ( Matthew 26:28 ). Jesus painted a picture, which the disciples would only understand in retrospect.

Remembering these events provided the disciples with comfort and confidence in their Savior. Those lessons from Holy Week would inform their teaching as they risked their lives to live out and share the gospel.

Our Life-Long Confidence

The disciples were initially afraid after the crucifixion on   Friday and still confused when their Messiah appeared in the flesh, resurrected from the dead.

But after Jesus returned to Heaven, this final week became a holy reminder, which helped to strengthen their faith and pull together all they had learned about God in the previous three years.

We do not rely on these truths for a week but every day; yet, no other week in his life is as closely examined in Scripture as this one. This tells us how important Holy Week is.

Yearly patterns of worship can help to reinforce daily habits and bring them alive for the believer who tries to picture what it was like to live with Jesus, to lose him, and then to see him alive again after what appeared to be a crushing defeat.

Holy Week is the lead-up to the most important reversal in human history when Christ was raised from the dead.

Get your FREE 8-Day Prayer and Scripture Guide - Praying Through the Holy Week HERE . Print your own copy for a beautiful daily devotional leading up to Easter.

For further reading:

What Is Holy Week? The Biblical Events of Passion Week

Why Did the Crowd Shout ‘Hosanna in the Highest’ for Jesus?

What Is the Medical Account of the Crucifixion?

What Is More Important, the Death of Christ or His Resurrection?

What is Palm Sunday?

What is Spy Wednesday?

What is Maundy Thursday?

What is Good Friday?

What is Holy Saturday?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Javier_Art_Photography

how do you spend your holy week essay

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  • Self-reflect in Holy Week: 10 Questions You May Ask Yourself

how do you spend your holy week essay

Each and everyone may have their own tradition during the Holy Week. Some do Visita Iglesia or visit their hometowns, while others are out and about enjoying the long weekend. Holy Week is indeed a break for most of us, but we should not forget its true essence.

It is the time to reflect on ourselves, embrace our own shortcomings and forgive those who hurt or offended us in any way as a preparation for Easter. It is a chance for us to be renewed and start a new beginning with a clear heart and mind.

Below is a list of questions you might want to ask yourself to reflect as you take a break this Holy Week:

  • How are you feeling these days?
  • What are the things about yourself that have changed over time?
  • Do you love your neighbors just like how Jesus loves you?
  • How will you reconcile with the people you once hurt or offended?
  • Have you forgiven those who did you wrong?
  • How can you be a source of light for others?
  • What are your priorities in life? Is God part of them?
  • Are you keeping God’s commandments?
  • Have you tried reconnecting with God on your own in silence?
  • Do you allow God to speak to you? Have you reflected on what He has told you?

May these questions help you reassess your faith and prepare yourselves for a new beginning. Find time to express your love and gratitude to the people around you. Let this be a season of meditating, reflecting, and reconnecting. May we all have a blessed Holy Week.

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Your How-To for Holy Week: Traditions to Make Every Day of Holy Week Meaningful

Lisa Cotter

Do you have any Holy Week traditions?

I made plans for Holy Week…and, well, I kind of made this post for myself so I can return to it each year.  So I created a “How-to Holy Week” list, with traditions to make every day of Holy Week meaningful.

Here’s my list:

how do you spend your holy week essay

Would you add anything to the list?

What are your plans for Holy Week?

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[See also: How to Gain a Plenary Indulgence this Holy Week, In One Infographic ]

[See also: This Holy Week, Raise Your Soul with Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” Masterpiece ]

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How Will You Spend Your Holy Week Break ?

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Hats Off To You, Career Moms

For many Filipino families, no matter what religion they have, Holy Week is the time to pause, reflect and spend time with their families. The short week offers peace to the spirit and with the sun at its peak throughout the day, you almost always feel you want to sleep.

We’ve asked the moms of MBP community how they will spend this much-needed break and here are their lovely answers. You may want to follow them on their blogs and learn a thing or two on how parenting life can be.

how do you spend your holy week essay

A balance between meditation, family and travel. (picture taken along the longest causeway of the phililppines in Calape, Bohol)

how do you spend your holy week essay

I’ll be spending my holy week with my family specially with my son. Spend my time with them, also film and edit a bunch of youtube videos for future use and ofcourse, write on my blog also, I wanted to strengthen my relationship with God this Lenten season. Attend mass on Easter Sunday (here’s a picture of my son because he woke up in the middle of my shooting a makeup tutorial)

how do you spend your holy week essay

Heard Palm Sunday mass with my family in Tagaytay.Will probably be doing Visita Iglesia.

how do you spend your holy week essay

My husband and I will go to our hometown to be with our little boy. Also to spend time with our family there. We’ll pray, reflect and repent this Lent season. ( )

how do you spend your holy week essay

Holy week will be spent with my kids at home since I’ve been so busy with work these past few weeks. We will go on Visita Iglesia on Maundy Thursday which has become a family tradition and I want my kids to observe the same when they’re older. And the highlight of our holy week will be Easter Sunday! Might join some easter Sunday activities too. –

how do you spend your holy week essay

Spend Holy Week with my family. More family bonding moments to strengthen our relationship and draw ourselves closer to God. This picture is taken in Palm Sunday at Monasterio de Tarlac .

how do you spend your holy week essay

Decided to stay home this weekend and spend the holy week with just our children. We’ll most likely take them to the Stations of the Cross on BGC for a reflection activity as we usually do on Holy Week:

how do you spend your holy week essay

Will spend holy week with the whole family, it’s time for us to teach Little Kulit more about Jesus and his sacrifices. We will also spend one day at the beach and it’s our first attend Easter Egg hunt –

how do you spend your holy week essay

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Essay on How I Spent My Weekend

Students are often asked to write an essay on How I Spent My Weekend in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on How I Spent My Weekend

My relaxing saturday.

My weekend began with a lazy morning. I stayed in bed until late, enjoying the warmth of my blanket. For breakfast, I had my favorite pancakes with syrup. Then, I played video games which was super fun. In the afternoon, I helped my mom in the garden, planting new flowers.

On Sunday, I woke up early and went cycling in the park with my dad. It was refreshing and the park was full of life. After lunch, I finished my homework. In the evening, we all watched a funny movie and laughed a lot. My weekend was simple but very enjoyable.

Also check:

  • Paragraph on How I Spent My Weekend

250 Words Essay on How I Spent My Weekend

My weekend began with the warm rays of the sun gently waking me up. I stayed in bed a little longer, enjoying the comfort of my cozy blanket. After getting up, I ate a breakfast of pancakes and honey. With a full stomach, I spent the morning reading my favorite comic book and playing with my dog, Max. He is always full of energy and loves to catch the ball. In the afternoon, I helped my mom bake cookies. The smell of chocolate and vanilla filled the house. It was a quiet and peaceful day.

Sunday Fun Day

On Sunday, I went on an adventure with my family. We drove to a nearby park where the grass was green and the flowers were blooming. I ran around, flew my kite, and even had a picnic with sandwiches and lemonade. My sister and I played tag and laughed a lot. Later, we all went on a nature walk and saw birds, squirrels, and a little pond with ducks. Before going home, we had ice cream cones which melted quickly in the sun but tasted delicious.

Getting Ready for School

As the sun began to set on Sunday, I organized my school bag and prepared my uniform. I also checked my homework to make sure everything was done. Feeling ready for the week ahead, I went to bed early. I fell asleep quickly, dreaming about the fun I had and the new adventures that the next weekend might bring.

500 Words Essay on How I Spent My Weekend

My relaxing weekend.

Weekends are a time for rest and fun. This past weekend was special for me because I did many things that made me happy. I want to share with you how I spent my time from Friday evening to Sunday night.

Friday Evening: Movie Night

My weekend started on Friday after school. I had no homework, so I decided to watch a movie. I chose a funny cartoon because laughter is the best way to begin the weekend. I made popcorn, grabbed a cozy blanket, and sat on the couch. The movie was about a talking dog that goes on adventures, and it made me laugh a lot.

Saturday Morning: A Trip to the Park

On Saturday morning, I woke up early. The sun was shining, and the birds were singing. After breakfast, my family and I went to the nearby park. The park has a big playground with swings and slides. I played there for hours, running around and enjoying the fresh air. My parents sat on a bench, watching and sometimes joining in the fun.

Saturday Afternoon: Baking Cookies

After lunch, my mom and I baked cookies. We mixed flour, sugar, eggs, and chocolate chips in a big bowl. I helped by stirring the mix and then placing small balls of dough onto the baking tray. The best part was the smell of cookies baking in the oven. We all had cookies and milk for a snack, and they were delicious.

Saturday Evening: Reading Time

In the evening, I picked a new book to read. It was a story about a young detective solving mysteries. I read for a couple of hours, lost in the exciting world of the book. Reading is one of my favorite hobbies because it’s like going on an adventure without leaving home.

Sunday Morning: Playing Soccer

On Sunday, I played soccer with my friends at the school ground. We made two teams and played a match. I scored a goal, and my team won. Playing soccer is fun, and it’s good exercise too.

Sunday Afternoon: Homework and Study

After the soccer game, I returned home to do my homework. I sat at my desk and worked on math problems and wrote an essay for English class. Doing homework on Sunday helps me prepare for the week ahead. It’s not as fun as playing or watching movies, but it’s important.

Sunday Evening: Family Dinner

To end the weekend, my family had a big dinner together. We had my favorite food, spaghetti, and talked about our weekend. It’s nice to spend time with family and share stories.

Conclusion: A Weekend Well Spent

In conclusion, my weekend was full of different activities that I enjoyed. From watching movies and playing at the park to baking cookies and reading a book. I also made sure to play with my friends and finish my school work. Spending time with my family was the perfect way to finish my weekend. I went to bed feeling happy and ready for the new week. This was how I spent my relaxing weekend.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

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Morgan Spurlock, Documentarian Known for ‘Super Size Me,’ Dies at 53

His 2004 film followed Mr. Spurlock as he ate nothing but McDonald’s for a month. It was nominated for an Oscar, but it later came in for criticism.

Morgan Spurlock, a young man with brown hair, sideburns and a long mustache, poses with French fries in his left hand and a hamburger in his right. He wears a red T-shirt with a picture of a burger on it.

By Clay Risen and Remy Tumin

Morgan Spurlock, a documentary filmmaker who gained fame with his Oscar-nominated 2004 film “ Super Size Me ,” which followed him as he ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days — but later stepped back from the public eye after admitting to sexual misconduct — died on Thursday in New York City. He was 53.

His brother Craig Spurlock said the cause was complications of cancer.

A self-described attention hound with a keen eye for the absurd, Mr. Spurlock was a playwright and television producer when he rocketed to global attention with “Super Size Me,” an early entry into the genre of gonzo participatory filmmaking that borrowed heavily from the confrontational style of Michael Moore and the up-close-and-personal influences of reality TV, which was then just emerging as a genre.

The film’s approach was straightforward: Mr. Spurlock would eat nothing but McDonald’s food for a month, and if a server at the restaurant offered to “supersize” the meal — that is, to give him the largest portion available for each item — he would accept.

The movie then follows Mr. Spurlock and his ever-patient girlfriend through his 30-day odyssey, splicing in interviews with health experts and visits to his increasingly disturbed physician. At the end of the month, he was 25 pounds heavier, depressed, puffy-faced and experiencing liver dysfunction.

The film, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, grossed over $22 million, made Mr. Spurlock a household name, earned him an Academy Award nomination for best documentary and helped spur a sweeping backlash against the fast-food industry — though only temporarily ; today, McDonald’s has 42,000 locations worldwide, its stock is near an all-time high, and 36 percent of Americans eat fast food on any given day.

“His movie,” the critic A.O. Scott wrote in The New York Times , “goes down easy and takes a while to digest, but its message is certainly worth the loss of your appetite.”

The film became a touchstone in American culture. By making himself a part of the story, Mr. Spurlock could be considered a forerunner of TikTok influencers and citizen-journalist YouTubers.

And even after the backlash against fast food subsided, “Super Size Me” remained a staple in high school health classes and a reference point for taking personal responsibility for one’s own diet.

But the film also came in for subsequent criticism. Some people pointed out that Mr. Spurlock refused to release the daily logs tracking his food intake. Health researchers were unable to replicate his results in controlled studies.

And in 2017, he admitted that he had not been sober for more than a week at a time in 30 years — meaning that, in addition to his “McDonald’s only” diet, he was drinking, a fact that he concealed from his doctors and the audience, and that most likely skewed his results.

The admission came in a statement in which he also revealed multiple incidents of sexual misconduct, including an encounter in college that he described as rape, as well as repeated infidelity and the sexual harassment of an assistant at his production company, Warrior Poets.

The statement, which Mr. Spurlock posted on Twitter in 2017, came as he was gearing up for the release of a sequel to the film, “ Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! ” on YouTube Red.

He stepped down from his production company, and YouTube dropped the film; it was instead released in 2019 by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Morgan Valentine Spurlock was born on Nov. 7, 1970, in Parkersburg, W.Va., and grew up in Beckley, W.Va. His father, Ben, owned and operated an auto-repair shop, and his mother, Phyllis (Valentine) Spurlock, was a junior high school and high school guidance counselor.

He later said he grew up as a fan of 1970s and ’80s British comedies like “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and “Blackadder.”

“I was doing funny walks round the house at 6 or 7,” he told The Independent in 2012 .

He studied film at New York University and received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1993, then began his career as a production assistant on film projects around New York City, beginning with Luc Besson’s “Léon: The Professional” (1994).

He also began writing plays, including “The Phoenix,” which won an award at the 1999 New York International Fringe Festival.

Mr. Spurlock’s first foray onto the screen was a proto-reality show called “I Bet You Will,” which was also one of the first web-only programs. In five-minute segments, he would dare people to do something gross, or humiliating, or both — eating a “worm burrito,” for example — in exchange for a wad of cash.

The show drew millions of viewers, as well as the interest of MTV, which bought the program a few months after it debuted.

During a Thanksgiving visit to his parents in 2002, Mr. Spurlock saw a TV news story about two women who had sued McDonald’s, claiming that the chain had misled them about the nutritional value of its hamburgers, fries and sodas and caused them to gain significant weight.

“A spokesman for McDonald’s came on and said, you can’t link their obesity to our food — our food is healthy, it’s nutritious,” he told The New York Times in 2004 . “I thought, ‘If it’s so good for me, I should be able to eat it every day, right?’”

And thus, “Super Size Me” was born.

Mr. Spurlock took to fame eagerly, and, with his wide smile and handlebar mustache, was hard to miss. He became an unofficial spokesman for the wellness movement, hobnobbed with celebrity chefs — and scrambled to find a new project.

He did not want to lose the momentum generated by “Super Size Me,” nor did he want to go down in history only as the guy who ate a lot of Big Macs.

“I’ll be that guy till I die,” he told The Independent.

A follow-up film, “Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?” (2008), was not nearly as well received. Critics assailed him for making light of an international terrorist and for oversimplifying complicated global politics. More bricks were thrown when it emerged that he had put himself at significant personal risk while in Pakistan while his wife was at home with their newborn son.

Eventually, he did get somewhat past the shadow of “Super Size Me”: He teamed up with the actors Jason Bateman and Will Arnett to explore the male grooming industry in “Mansome” (2012) and followed the band One Direction around, resulting in the film “One Direction: This Is Us” (2013).

He produced films by other documentarians, including “The Other F Word” (2011), directed by Andrea Blaugrund Nevins, about punk rockers who became fathers, and “A Brony Tale” (2014), directed by Brent Hodge, about the subculture known as Bronies — adults, mostly men, who love the animated series “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.”

And he continued to make projects that leaned on the participatory style of “Super Size Me.” He created and starred in a series called “30 Days” for FX, in which a person, often Mr. Spurlock himself, would spend about a month embedded in a community much different from his own. One episode saw him spend 25 days in a Virginia jail.

Mr. Spurlock was married three times, to Priscilla Sommer, Alexandra Jamieson and Sara Bernstein; all three marriages ended in divorce. Along with his brother Craig, he is survived by another brother, Barry; his parents; and his sons, Laken and Kallen.

His decision to discuss his sexual past, which came at the height of the #Metoo movement, was met with a mix of praise and criticism. Though many people lauded him for coming forward, critics suggested that he was trying to get ahead of a story that was going to emerge anyway.

All agreed, though, that the decision came with consequences: “Career death,” The Washington Post declared it in 2022 , noting that the once-ubiquitous Mr. Spurlock had largely disappeared.

Clay Risen is a Times reporter on the Obituaries desk. More about Clay Risen

Remy Tumin is a reporter for The Times covering breaking news and other topics. More about Remy Tumin


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    Let Go of Your Doubt. Another time, Jesus declared: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. " ( John 4:34) and "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.". ( John 6:38 ). Jesus talked over and over about his unity with the Father, his joyful alignment with the ...

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    Holy Thursday: Read the story of the Last Supper. Recreate the Last Supper with whatever supplies you have on hand, such as bread, crackers, tortillas, juice, etc. You also can "play Mass" with your kids and discuss the different parts of the Mass. Explain how, though your family is playing pretend, Jesus truly is present in the Eucharist ...

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    Published May 10, 2021. Easter Sunday is the most important day in the Christian calendar, celebrating the resurrection of Christ and his victory over the grave. But the week leading up to Easter is also important to many Christians. Some denominations encourage their congregations to connect daily worship with the events, which took place on ...

  14. Self-reflect in Holy Week: 10 Questions You May Ask Yourself

    Holy Week is indeed a break for most of us, but we should not forget its true essence. It is the time to reflect on ourselves, embrace our own shortcomings and forgive those who hurt or offended us in any way as a preparation for Easter. It is a chance for us to be renewed and start a new beginning with a clear heart and mind. Below is a list ...

  15. Your How-To for Holy Week: Traditions to Make Every Day of Holy Week

    Signal Group. WhatsApp Group 1. WhatsApp Group 2. ChurchPOP Facebook Group. Email List. [See also: How to Gain a Plenary Indulgence this Holy Week, In One Infographic] [See also: This Holy Week, Raise Your Soul with Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" Masterpiece]

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    2. Alis Galit (Get rid of anger) Remove anger. Forgive. "To forgive is to simply say, Lord, you have forgiven me so much that I have forgiven those who have hurt me," Orbos said. Forgiving does good to one's self, more than to anybody else. 3. Gawa ng mabuti (Make good deeds) The Holy Week is the time to do good works.

  18. How Will You Spend Your Holy Week Break

    Washing of the feet as a family at home. Good Friday - Try to attend the Veneration of the Cross. Pray the Stations of the Cross at home. Holy Saturday - Stay home. Easter Sunday - Attend the Grand Easter Feast at MOA Arena. All the days - Read our Holy Week/Easter themed books, pray together as a family. Fast and observe abstinence as ...

  19. Essay on How I Spent My Weekend

    My Relaxing Saturday. My weekend began with the warm rays of the sun gently waking me up. I stayed in bed a little longer, enjoying the comfort of my cozy blanket. After getting up, I ate a breakfast of pancakes and honey. With a full stomach, I spent the morning reading my favorite comic book and playing with my dog, Max.

  20. How Your Family Can Spend Holy Week at Home

    Good Friday is traditionally spent to reflect. With many Roman Catholics participating in processions during this day, you can take time to meditate at home and solemnly honor how Jesus suffered for your sins. Put your screen down for a while and try to read and reflect on notable passages in the Bible. You can also try meditation apps to help ...

  21. Essays on Holy Week. Free essay topics and examples about Holy Week

    Free. The author analyzes how Holy Week is celebrated around the world and when, where, why, how is it celebrated. The Holy Week is the week before Easter and the last week of lent. It is an important period in the Christian calendar which commemorates the death of Jesus and the events which led to it. ...

  22. write an essay on how you spent your holy week. Use at least 5 cohesive

    In conclusion, Holy Week is a time to ponder, repent, and celebrate the most significant events in Christian faith. It is a time to be close to God, express our gratitude, and seek forgiveness. Through cohesive devices like 'Firstly,' 'Secondly,' 'Thirdly,' 'Fourthly,' 'Finally,' and others, I was able to organize my thoughts and express them ...

  23. Make an essay on how you spend your Holy Week. Pls answer this question

    Make an essay on how you spend your Holy Week. Pls answer this question cause I have been waiting this for 6 hrs - 13031990. ... But do you know what makes this year's holy week special? Even though we experienced our Holy Week last year with the pandemic, we're still strong as ever. With His guidance, we made it together until now. ...

  24. Morgan Spurlock, Documentarian Known for 'Super Size Me,' Dies at 53

    The statement, which Mr. Spurlock posted on Twitter in 2017, came as he was gearing up for the release of a sequel to the film, "Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!" on YouTube Red.