Column: Cap off your Lent by making a special effort this Holy Week

As the Church Prays
Michael Podrebarac is the archdiocesan consultant for the liturgy office.pod

by Michael Podrebarac

It’s never too late to begin to keep a good Lent. In fact, Holy Week provides a good “final lap” of this season of discipline and renewal — one which can either revive or hone one’s Lenten observance.

So, even if you’re looking at the arrival of Palm Sunday and thinking to yourself, “Where did the time go?” and lamenting what you haven’t gained from this holy season, make a new start today and ask the Holy Spirit to help you do your best as the week heads toward Easter.

Here are a few suggestions.

Consider taking a particular verse from each day’s Gospel this week and ask yourself questions like: “Have I said this, in so many words?” or “How is Jesus saying this to me?” Chew on the words, if you will, and what they mean for your own life. Choose your own, or try these:

Palm Sunday: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Holy Monday: “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” Holy Tuesday: “Will you lay down your life for me?” Holy Wednesday: “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” Holy Thursday: “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Good Friday: “We have no king but Caesar.”

Consider keeping some sort of fast throughout the week. Some choose to observe each day as a day of fasting: one principal meal with two smaller meals, and no in-between meal snacking. Others simply abstain from meat or eat a lighter, vegetarian diet.

The idea is not to punish ourselves, but rather to use the disciplines of abstinence and fasting to gently readjust whatever imbalances might still remain in our earthly attachments. And, of course, food is not the only thing from which we might abstain and fast.

Finally, consider observing the entire liturgy of the Triduum. As many of us already know, the Triduum consists of only one single liturgical celebration, commemorated in three services from Thursday evening through Saturday evening.

Attending the entire liturgy over the three days gives us the privilege of following Jesus as he offers himself to the Father. And we, having entered into his actions, are able to offer ourselves to God through him.

No one who prayerfully keeps the entire Triduum liturgy is ever disappointed. In fact, we should all make the Triduum liturgy a priority of the last days of Holy Week, even when we’ve kept a good Lent. Otherwise, it’s like training for a competition, but not showing up for the actual event!

It’s never too late to begin to do what the Lord asks of us!

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