Activity ideas for Holy Week and Easter

By Renae Kranz

Holy Week and the Easter season are the most holy time in the Church year. Beautiful Masses and rituals lead us on a walk with Jesus from the Last Supper, into the Garden of Gethsemane, along the Way of the Cross, to the darkness and silence of the tomb, and finally to the glory of the resurrection on Easter Morning.

It’s a time to really focus in on our faith and the sacrifice Christ made for our salvation.

At the moment I’m writing this, we don’t know if we’ll be able to celebrate Mass together in person or only with our families in our homes. It’s most unsettling to all Catholics. The Lord is asking us to trust Him and suffer along with Him once more. I’m confident we can do it with His grace and Mother Mary’s care.

Whether we are able to attend Mass this year or not, there are many ways we can increase our participation in these moments. I’ve gathered a variety of ideas to help you celebrate and make your Holy Week and Easter season more joyful and meaningful.

As you read through these ideas, Emily Leedom, director of Marriage, Family and Respect Life for the diocese, suggests only choosing the things that really speak to you. Don’t try to do the entire list! She reminds us that part of the beauty of this season is its simplicity, so don’t add to your stress by trying to do too much.

So if you’re ready, here are some great lists of things to do, whether we have public Mass or not.

Mass at home ideas

  • Example of a home altar.

    Set up a home altar and prayer space. Consider putting it near your TV or the device you would use to watch Mass on TV should that be necessary.

  • Clean up and dress as though you are physically attending Mass.
  • Foster quiet time before Mass just as you would as you sit in a pew in church. This allows your heart to transition from the busyness of your home to the Sacrifice of the Mass.
  • Open your Bible to the readings of the day and place it on your altar.
  • Light incense or candles.
  • Pull kitchen chairs in to create a home pew.
  • Say the responses out loud.
  • Kneel, stand and sit according to the rubrics of the Mass and as you are able.
  • During Holy Communion, pray the Act of Spiritual Communion (page 3 of this issue).
  • At the end of Mass, take a few minutes for quiet or prayer as a family. You could pray a Hail Mary, Glory Be, Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, etc.
  • Keep holy the Sabbath. Engage with your family by having breakfast together. Call loved ones to stay connected.

Holy Week ideas

  • Palm Sunday: read the Gospel account (Matthew 21:1-11) of Jesus entering Jerusalem.
  • Do a processional through your home with palm branches and singing. If you don’t have palms, use plants or candles. If singing feels awkward, play Matt Maher’s Litany of Saints.
  • Watch the movie “The Ten Commandments.”
  • Serve a traditional seder meal in memory of the Passover meal Jesus ate with the apostles at the Last Supper. Read the Gospel account (John 13:1-15).
  • Wash the feet of your family members.
  • Make unleavened bread (www.food.com/recipe/unleavened-bread-for-passover-134022).
  • Attend the Mass on Holy Thursday and The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday (if possible).
  • Read accounts of the Passion of the Lord from the Gospels each day of Holy Week.
  • Sing a hymn together, such as “Jesus, Remember Me” before bed.
  • Watch the movie “The Passion of the Christ.”
  • Remove or cover artwork in your home beginning on Holy Thursday.
  • Observe an hour of silence during the 3:00 hour of mercy on Good Friday.
  • Consider 24 hours of silence from Good Friday to Holy Saturday.
  • Go for a rosary walk or Divine Mercy Chaplet walk.
  • Begin the Divine Mercy novena at 3:00 on Good Friday.
  • Pray the Stations of the Cross.
  • Cover your crucifix with purple cloth for Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
  • Go to confession.
  • Pray the sorrowful mysteries.
  • Offer up your sufferings.
  • Give up electronics from sundown Holy Thursday until Easter morning.

Easter Season and other ideas

  • Make resurrection (empty tomb) rolls with a marshmallow in the center. After baking, the roll will be empty, signifying the empty tomb.
  • Have your kids color pictures of sacred images. Brush them with vegetable oil, and they will become transparent. Hang them on a window to look like stained glass.
  • Dye Easter eggs.
  • Sign up for a membership to Formed.org. This website has tons of videos, movies and audio books to help you grow in your faith. It is a great resource for the entire family. You are encouraged to sign up under your home parish for no cost.
  • Pray more.