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What Can I Do During Holy Week?

Cut the cord for the Lord – Make ready way for faith-full Holy Week

By Mary Carty

 

While an ideal way to walk through Holy Week would be to go to a quiet, peaceful retreat and reflect on the meaning of Easter and the days leading up to it, Catholics can create "mini-retreats" within the confines of our overbooked, fast-paced, stressed, electronic world.

WOMAN HOLDS CROSS MADE FROM PALM FROND – A woman holds a cross made from a palm frond at the end of Passion Sunday Mass at St. John Vianney Church in Prince Frederick, Md., in 2006. Passion Sunday, popularly known as Palm Sunday, commemorates Christ's jubilant entry into Jerusalem and marks the beginning of Holy Week. It is being observed on April 1 this year. (CNS)
WOMAN HOLDS CROSS MADE FROM PALM FROND – A woman holds a cross made from a palm frond at the end of Passion Sunday Mass at St. John Vianney Church in Prince Frederick, Md., in 2006. Passion Sunday, popularly known as Palm Sunday, commemorates Christ's jubilant entry into Jerusalem and marks the beginning of Holy Week. It is being observed on April 1 this year. (CNS)

Time for these spiritual oases can be found by figuratively cutting the electric cord of the television and the wireless signals of the Internet to make way for reflection, prayer and meditation.

Considering that most people spend hours each day watching television or surfing the Web in their free time, cutting the cord would provide an extended opportunity to truly observe Holy Week.

If one spent two hours a day engaged with television and/or the computer - studies indicate that the average American may spend up to six hours or more a day in front of an electronic screen - cutting the cord would open up that time each day. The extra two hours multiplied by the six days of Holy Week - from Palm or Passion Sunday on April 1 this year through Holy Saturday on April 7 - equals 12 found hours for prayer and reflection.

Twelve hours is a considerable span of time and would provide a great opportunity for a spiritual tune-up.

Even if a person could give up one hour of television or Internet time per day, they would have a total of six hours to spend on preparation for a well thought out confession and Easter experience.

The concept of cutting the cord may be much too drastic for some and there is the option of magically adding an extra hour to the daily schedule by setting the alarm clock one hour earlier. Voila, there would then be six hours of this precious commodity called time.

Meditation and prayer are just a few ways to get into a spiritual mode.

Other examples and estimated times for such activities include:

- Daily Mass, one hour.
- Confession, 15 minutes.
- Confession preparation, could range from minutes to hours. This process is healing and a thorough inventory would be, if engaged honestly and fearlessly, very worthwhile.
- Pray the Rosary, 15 minutes to an hour or more, depending on the depth of prayer and reflection on each of the mysteries.
- Walk through in prayer the Stations of the Cross, 30 minutes to an hour.
- Read scriptures, 15 minutes to an hour.
- Meditate while taking a spring walk, as short as 10 minutes or as long as time allows.
- Write a gratitude list to acknowledge all of the blessings we have in our lives, a half hour to one hour.
- Make a small amends or ask forgiveness of someone we've wronged in a small way, which can take less than a minute for a simple, though heartfelt “I am sorry.”
- Make a great amends, by calling a friend, colleague or family member from whom you may be estranged, a half hour to an hour.
- Read from a daily meditation book, five minutes.
- Say the "Prayer of St. Francis," two to three minutes.
- Pray the "Hail Mary," one or two minutes.
- Pray the "Our Father," one or two minutes.

If one can't find even five-minute “windows” available, there is still hope for increasing communication with God through micro-mini, less-than-a-minute prayers focused on loved ones, God and self.

Such thoughts for the day serve as reminders to direct our minds and energies that put us in a better position to meet the challenges of the day. For example, such a prayer can be as simple and direct as "Good morning God, help me to do your will today."

Other examples might focus on one's role as:

- A spouse. "Help me to refrain from being judgmental and sarcastic. May I choose to show love instead."

- A parent. "Help me to remember that children are children and I am their teacher and role model."

- A daughter/son. "Help me to show consideration and love toward my parents."

- A friend. "Help me to find time to spend with friends."

- A neighbor. "Help me to remember to show my neighbors respect and small acts of kindness."

- A co-worker. "Help me to have a positive attitude toward my co-workers. They are doing their best."

- A parishioner. "Help me to be more active in my parish in service and support.

If prayers like these are said during this Holy Week, maybe they will be remembered during challenging times throughout the year.

When feeling frustration as a parent toward a teenager, anger at a slow driver or disappointment in one's self, a quick prayer can be said to ask for God’s help.

And in times of feeling awe over a baby’s smile or spectacular sunset, a quick prayer of thanksgiving can convey thanks to God for those gifts.

Whether the prayer or meditation lasts a few seconds or a few hours, it is the power of that connection that makes our journey a bit easier, our attitude a bit brighter and our faith a bit stronger.

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