Well, here we are. All the preparation, prayer, sacrifice, and almsgiving that we focused on during Lent has finally brought us to this most holy of holy weeks.
But I need to backtrack a little since I am a little tardy in getting this post out. On Saturday, the day before Holy Week we celebrated the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We know from Scriptures that Joseph was a just and upright man. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the Universal Church and of family life. We should go to St. Joseph often and ask for his guidance in our own trials of family life and in following the will of God. This day is also my youngest son, Joey’s, Name Day. And since I love those Shining Light Dolls I HAD to get the St. Joseph one for my little guy to celebrate his Name Day.
And we always get St. Joseph’s cakes (cream puff pastry) from the local Italian bakery to have for dessert on this special feast day.
Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday — the final Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week — in which we commemorate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem where palm branches were placed on the ground in his path. “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord”.
I had read about the idea of having a symbolic Passion Story Lunch on catholicicing.com which we did on Good Friday a couple of years ago. This year Lacy (from catholicicing.com) turned it into a symbolic Lenten Tea for Kids. I decided to use the same premise but tweaked the menu a bit for an Easter Story Dinner which really set the stage for the upcoming holy week. Here’s our menu and what each item symbolized:
- Olives – Jesus’ agony in the garden at the Mount of Olives. (I also needed a veggie for our menu so we had a caesar salad which went along with the ‘garden’ idea)
- Hershey’s Kiss – the kiss of Judas
- Sword with Cheese – Jesus’ arrest
- Roasted Chicken – Peter’s denial
- Silver Peppermint Patty – Judas’ 30 pieces of silver
- Apple Crisp (baked in a round bundt pan with toothpicks sticking out) – crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head
- Water – Pilate washes his hands of Jesus
- Dinner Rolls (baked and then placed on a platter in the shape of a cross) – Crucifixion
- Salt and Vinegar Potatoes (and salt and vinegar Pringles for the kids who love the chips but turned their noses up at the potatoes…go figure?) – Jesus offered vinegar to drink
According to ancient tradition, the three days after Palm Sunday are devoted in many places to a thorough cleaning of the house. This traditional ‘spring-cleaning’ is to make the home as neat as possible for the greatest feast of the year…Easter!
Holy Wednesday or Spy Wednesday is the day on which Judas betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin for 30 pieces of silver. Last year we started a new tradition–I hid 30 silver quarters around the house and the kids had to find them…and they got to keep the money they found!
And that brings us to the summit of the Liturgical year–the Easter Triduum–which begins on the evening of Holy Thursday and ends on the evening of Easter Sunday. Although they are chronologically three days they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.
On Holy Thursday we commemorate the Last Supper. Jesus celebrated the dinner as a Passover feast but this is the day that he established the sacrament of Holy Communion. This day also commemorates His institution of the priesthood. For dinner on this day we have a Christian seder meal…I don’t do it exactly like this but this give a good background on the Christian seder meal. I serve lamb (ground lamb which we make into burgers with Greek seasoning and lamb chops), Haroset (recipe below), salad, matzo, and grape juice for the kids/wine for the adults. We watch The Prince of Egypt and eat gummy frogs (second plague).
6 peeled apples, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup chopped almonds
3 TBsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
grated rind of 1 lemon
Combine all ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Chill.
Good Friday is a very solemn day. It’s a day of fast. And from 12 noon to 3p, as a family we focus on Jesus’ crucifixion and death. We use the Resurrection Eggs to read the story of Easter in Scriptures and we recite the Sorrowful mystery of the Rosary together. Then Dave and the older kids watch The Passion of the Christ and I watch a kid’s version of the Passion with the younger ones and we usually watch a Veggie Tales Easter show. That evening we go to Stations of the Cross at our parish.
On Holy Saturday we still mourn the death of Jesus but we prepare for Easter. We usually dye our Easter eggs on this day. I heard about this great book, The Miracle of the Red Egg by Elizabeth Crispina Johnson. Summary: During Easter, Orthodox all over the world dye and bless red eggs. This tradition started back in apostolic times with St. Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was attending a feast hosted by the unbelieving Emperor Tiberius. She was so overjoyed with the Resurrected Jesus that she was telling everyone near her about it. The Emperor hears this and in disbelief proclaims “Do you see this egg? I declare that Jesus can no more have risen from the dead, than this egg could turn blood red”. And to everyone’s amazement the egg turned red!
EASTER SUNDAY! ALLELUIA!!