Holy Week can often be overlooked during the excitement and celebration of Easter. But it is a vital time for Catholics to prepare themselves for Jesus’ death and resurrection.
According to Austin-based spiritual director and inspirational author Karen May, “A lot of people only go to the Palm Sunday service and then Easter Mass. I would liken that to going to the movie preview, and then going to the end of the movie, and you miss two hours of the movie leading up to the end.”
May’s book, Walking Through Holy Week: A Journey into the Story of Easter, is an in-depth study of the stories and events that open up a deeply meaningful experience of Easter, taking the reader through Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.
“It’s actually my favorite season of the whole year because there’s so much packed into it,” said May.
Beginning with Palm Sunday, May describes the service as an “Ignatian-type” service, where we are drawn in to participate by holding palm leaves and being interactive throughout the Mass.
But how can we make Holy Week more personal in preparation for the feast of Easter?
“For me, it’s to understand what the story is that’s being told each day,” said May.
For example, Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper through the Agony in the Garden.
“If you understand that, you can watch all those pieces happen,” said May. “To make it personal is to really know what the story is that’s being told and bring that in to your experience of each day.”
Another important aspect to Holy Week and Lent is the Stations of the Cross. According to May, it’s important when reading and experiencing Scripture through the stations to bring them into your life today. Ask yourself, what is Jesus telling me to do here?
“God is not some puppeteer up there. He’s right here, and He’s involved in your life today,” she said. “Not 2,000 years ago. Right now, right here.”
For instance, when Jesus falls three times while carrying the cross, we can see that even though He is the son of God, Jesus still struggled with the cross he bore. Just like it’s okay for us to struggle with the crosses and obstacles we’re given. And it shows us that we are called to something more, so we can stand back up, said May.
“It’s really taking those stations and bringing those into a way to inspire is to live the life of sacrifice and of love that we’re called to live today,” she said.
To learn more about Karen May and her work, visit www.amayzinggraces.com.