Column: Embrace Holy Week as a family and attend its services

Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.

by Deacon Tony Zimmerman

A sign by the road said: “Bunny suits for rent.” Now, I’m not putting down the annual Easter egg hunts for the little ones. However, how many people would respond to: “Crosses to bear available here”?

The cross is an inspiring and consoling image. We place them in our homes, wear them around our necks and venerate them in our churches. The harsh reality is that bearing the cross as Our Lord did, had a cost. He took on our humanity. He experienced hunger, fatigue, and sorrow. He endured unbelievable pain through the excruciating death of crucifixion. As one of the eucharistic prayers reminds us, he entered into his passion willingly. He demonstrated his full and unconditional love for each one of us, no matter how much we struggle with sin.

The new evangelization recognizes one fact: A personal relationship with Christ is essential. We must find a way to allow his love for us to deeply penetrate our hearts. This is best fostered at an early age by family traditions of faith.

One tradition is faithful family participation in the services of Holy Week. Let’s focus on one: Good Friday and the veneration of the cross. As a ninth-grader, I remember the prostration of the priest and servers on the altar floor at the start of the service. As one of those servers, lying face down on the altar floor before the image of our crucified Lord, it was moving. It meant quiet, holy reverence before Jesus.

As I think of this now, memories of processing forward with my mother as a child for the veneration of the cross fill my mind. Even though I didn’t comprehend everything then, all of these moments come together as I contemplate the cross and Christ’s love for us.

As a permanent deacon, standing near the cross for veneration each Good Friday, I see the faces of those who bend down and kiss the cross, faces of adults moved with emotion, faces of children filled with wonder as they watch and follow the example of their parents.

Please, as a family, enter fully into the services of Holy Week. Celebrate the Supper of the Lord on Holy Thursday. Join in the procession to the altar of repose where the body of Our Lord will be present for contemplation and adoration.

On Good Friday, listen to the Passion of Christ proclaimed. Come forward after contemplating the Gospel and reverence the cross. Go home and share with one another the feelings and thoughts that flooded your soul as your lips touched the wood of the cross, upon which hung our salvation.

How much more will your joy be as you hear the words proclaimed on Easter Sunday: He is risen!

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