Palm Sunday is tomorrow you guys! I’m inadvertently VERY prepared for an at home Holy Week and Easter, but definitely mourning the prospect. The images of Palm Sunday from old picture Bibles are kinda punching me in the gut right now.
The sea of humanity, the crowd, the bustle! It all seems so foreign right now. None of this 👆 or this 👇 in 2020.
Instead, we’re preparing for Holy Week and Easter at home. I’ve got this post with all of our Holy Week traditions, and 90% of them were at home any way, so if you’re looking to use sheltering at home to start some new traditions, check ‘er out.
I know this pandemic and the associated social distancing is troubling and inconvenient and stressful and even scary. But it also has the potential to be a time when we can come together in our domestic churches and create beautiful moments and beautiful memories of these holy days, all from the comfort/crazy of home.
But Palm Sunday has always revolved around Mass: the blessed palms, the dramatic reading of the Passion. How to manage THAT at home?
I started getting questions about at home versions of these things, and at first, I didn’t think it would be possible. The palms we receive at Palm Sunday Masses are blessed by a priest, and become sacramentals. Lay people cannot create sacramentals. However, we are allowed to ask God’s blessing on things over which we have dominion, like our homes and our children and our . . . branches, right? Right. So, I asked a trusted priest and he thought it COULD be done. I went looking for an appropriate blessing, and found it in the USCCB’s book: Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.
Under normal conditions, this rite is used for placing already blessed palms in a place of honor in the home. Hopefully that’s what we’ll use these prayers for NEXT year. This year, however, with the addition of some holy water, if you have it, and some waving and processing about the yard and/or house, it makes a good at home approximation of the beautiful reenactments of Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem.
And of course, it wouldn’t be Palm Sunday without a reading of the Passion. Most parishes do a dramatized version of the gospel on this day. It gets me every time. I wanted to do THAT too, but it seemed prohibitively cumbersome to have the kids all crowded around our one Magnificat trying to figure out who says what. So, I created a Passion Play Script for us to use on Sunday as we pray through the Mass as a family, word for word from the gospel of Matthew.
And then I decided to get fancy with all of it and booklet-ify the blessing of branches, and add a hymn, and a litany, and a procession, and some illustrations, and to gussy up the Passion Play Script a bit too, and put them in the shop in case you guys are interested in this stuff too.
The Passion Play can be done in four parts like is traditionally done at Mass, with as few as three people, or it can be broken up into individual speakers and have as many as fourteen parts for those with big households. We plan to begin our family prayer service on Palm Sunday with the blessing of branches and procession, then use the script during our family Mass prayers. And we’ll be wearing red, of course!
I grabbed my trusty tree saw this afternoon and headed out into the neighborhood. Good thing everyone isn’t taking this time to go for nice long walks and I didn’t totally baffle them all. 👵🌴🪓😕 I located the perfect palm branch, got permission from the neighbor, and sawed it down. If you don’t have palms locally, you can use ANY branches. All over the world people have traditionally used local branches, including olive, pussy willow, and manzanita. Use evergreens, use a decorative branch from the grocery store floral department, use kale, there really isn’t a requirement for palms!
But if you’re local and want some palm leaves, let me know. I might end up with a couple to spare. Email me!
Speaking of people thinking I’m nuts, I’m not sure how YOUR Coronavirus Quarantine crazy is manifesting, but mine is turning up as booklet-making. I also created this brand new, and hopefully never EVER useful again Easter “Dry Mass” Booklet.
The booklet includes a complete “Dry Mass” as it’s traditionally called, with the prayers and readings of Mass, excluding the consecration. Also included are hymns, a renewal of baptismal promises, an Easter reflection by Saint John Chrysostom, petitions, and an Act of Spiritual Communion.
It’s useable by families following along with a Mass on TV, and also for those who plan to read the prayers and readings aloud as a family. Everything included is appropriate for use by the laity, according to my research from many sources, and has the thumbs up from a very informed and trusted priest (the same one).
And while we’re at it, I’ll give you the complete rundown of all the printable Holy Week and Easter resources available in the Catholic All Year shop, so far. I say so far because I have one more kind of big project I want to put together, so we’ll have to see if I can manage it in the next few days, in time for it to be useful.
First, because I get this question a lot, I should mention my book, The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life. It’s available as a real book and an ebook, and, really, liturgical living in the home has never felt so relevant, right? The Compendium has the history and stories behind over a hundred feast days all year long (of course) plus suggestions for foods, activities, devotions, blessings, Bible readings, hymns, and prayers that families can do together. A few texts are included, but mostly it’s just suggestions.
That’s where the monthly booklets come it. I’ve compiled all the actual texts of all the suggested prayers, readings, etc. into booklets for each month. So, you can reasonably use either one without the other, but they work best together.
Here’s what’s available for Holy Week:
- April + Easter Booklet Bundle including 2-8 below
- Catholic All April Prayer Booklet featuring at home prayers, readings, and devotions for Holy Week and Eastertide
- A Visit to the Blessed Sacrament Prayer Booklet
- Divine Mercy Novena Prayer Booklet
- Paschal Greeting for Eastertide (He is risen! He is risen, indeed!) in color and b&w
- Prayer After Grace for April (O Sacrum Convivium) in color and b&w
- Stations of the Cross Booklet
- Holy Week Meal and Activity Planner
You might also enjoy:
- Grace Before and After Meals (free!)
- Stations of the Cross Coloring Pages for kids and adults
- Act of Spiritual Communion, Act of Contrition, Morning Offering Set
- Prayers of Surrender and Abandonment to God’s Will Set
- Catholic All Day Prayer Booklet as a printable pdf and on Amazon as a paperback booklet
- At Home Veneration of the Cross Booklet ($1)
- Rosary Booklet ($1)
- Blessing of Produce Booklet ($1)
If you don’t have access to a printer, check out documents.Staples.com. They’re currently offering 50 free copies, delivered free to your front door in a day or two. It’s pretty amazing.
The Catholic All April booklet has really simple, concrete things to do as a family, in your home, for each day of Holy Week. You don’t even have to look up the Bible verses, ’cause they’re right in there. But it didn’t have a blessing for palms or and at home Easter Dry Mass, ☹ so I did those up special for this year.
Okay, I think that’s it for tonight I hope you have a very blessed Holy Week and Easter. Please feel free to reach out in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. I’m here to help!