by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
A large part of the Catholic world will be deprived of the sacred celebrations of Holy Week, this year, due to the lack of courage and zeal of many clergy in the face of COVID-19. I have previously given my opinion about how ceremonies can still be conducted with the faithful, so I will omit repeating myself here.
Instead, I would offer here some suggestions about how to commemorate the Passion and Death of Our Lord for those who are shut out of Church, and find themselves, in a certain sort of way, like hermits in a hermitage without a priest, who have no opportunity for the Sacraments.
First of all, I recommend reciting the entire Divine Office for Holy Week, beginning with Vespers for Palm Sunday. You can find these in the original Latin, with translations in English, French, German, Italian, Magyar, Portuguese, and Polish, at DivinumOfficium.com. This is a wonderful site, already used by many clergy, since it has the texts in a format adapt to desk top computers, mobile devices, tablets, etc., and allows you the option of choosing any one of the approved texts from the time of the Council of Trent to the reforms of 1962.
Second, I recommend taking the time you have, quarantined in your homes, to read all Four Gospels cover to cover. Whether you have already done so, or not, in your life, because now more than ever we need to hold fast to the words of Jesus Christ and His teaching, and refresh ourselves and the Fountain of Salvation. Do this prayerfully and silently, and let it be your Lectio Divina, like a monk in his monastic cells, contemplating higher and better things.
Third, I recommend that in your homes you gather together to recite the Most Holy Rosary. Either 5 decades a day, or better yet, all 15, by reciting 5 decades in the morning, 5 decades at Noon, and 5 decades in the evening. This would be a wonderful way of living the Faith together this Holy Week.
Fourth, I recommend that you watch as little or no TV as possible. Taste for this one week, as if on a retreat in a Monastery, how beautiful life is without the TV and Radio running non stop. Instead, I highly recommend enthroning an Image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in your home. If you have a printer, print one out. If you have a holy card use that. If you have neither, find and image on the web, and display it on your device, and make the enthronement as if you could post one in your home. Jesus and Mary will understand. Or if someone can draw, have them draw such images. This is a wonderful project for children.
Fifth, for those who can, I encourage you to join in the Perpetual Supplica or Devotions of Bl. Emmerich at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which I publish every night — and God-willing, with another 160 subscribers, live soon! Blessed Emmerich was inspired by God to rise at midnight every night and pray with her arms in the form of the Cross for the Church. That is why I call them the Devotions of Bl. Emmerich.
Sixth, on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, I highly recommend reading out-loud, together with those with whom your reside, the texts of the Gospels for the Passion of Our Lord. This is a blessed way of reliving the events of Our Salvation and making the remembrance of all which Our Lord did and said and suffered vividly alive once again, in your families.
Seventh, I encourage you to make many acts of sorrow and penitence for your sins and to resolve every more firmly and resolutely to sin nor more and to serve the Lord Jesus. Spend at least 15 minutes each day in silent prayer, alone in your room, and speak to the Lord and His Saints in your own words. Ask for the grace and light and virtue the actual graces to do His will, to govern your homes in a manner pleasing to Him. Ask especially for His blessing upon your family and His protection.
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