Holy Week Reflection in a Time of Pandemic

By Sister Carol Thresher, SDS

What makes a week holy?  What makes this week holy?

Normally, during these days I am drawn to pray the gospel story of Jesus, open to new insights.  Jesus moves through the crowd’s acclamation on Palm Sunday, into supper with his companions where he encounters heart wrenching betrayal culminating in execution. Usually the journey through the week is swift, almost too swift to take in.  I’ve often found my heart caught and drawn to stillness at many junctures along the way.  Yet, I can’t seem to slow down the “fast forward” built into the story of this week called holy.  Suddenly I am engulfed in the light and alleluias of Easter. It is almost “too much” as pieces of my heart are left behind.  I find them scattered about in a multitude of places: with the dying olive branches; in the dirty water that bathed feet; on the shared table; in the lonely garden; and all along the bloody journey to Calvary.  Do I go back to gather them up?  Can I even piece it all together? Or, do I plunge on into resurrected joy?

Holy Week 2020 will be different.  As I write this, I realize that the fasting and abstinence of Lent 2020 has already been different and yet so very, very real.  We’ve all been forced to fast from our normal way of life and abstain from the daily human interaction we take so much for granted.

As we move into this Holy Week at a time of global pandemic, I am called to ask, “My God, what do you want to teach me, teach us?  What am I to learn as I stumble along this very different “Via Dolorosa”? Now that the “fast forward” motion of my life has ground to what some days feels like a maddening halt, how do I lean into the work you want to do within me?  Will I let you set a new pace?  Can I be still enough to trust that the world and those I love are in your hands?  Can I resist the panic that flows toward me from the frightened ones?  Can I reach out like Simon of Cyrene and Veronica? Can I?  Will I?

Gracious God, I pray to be open to whatever you want me to learn during these unique times and especially in this week called HOLY.  Help me find my way as I walk alongside Jesus.  I pray this open to the guidance of your Holy Spirit both now and forever, Amen.




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