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Five ways to make Holy Week more holy

lily and thorns

As we prepare to enter into the most sacred days of the liturgical year, we have a prime opportunity to make up for any shortcomings that may have been part of our Lent this year. Blessedly, Holy Week offers us the chance to refocus, reflect and renew as we wind down our Lenten journeys and look ahead to the promise of Easter. Alternatively, we might have had a splendid Lent and are looking for some ways to "level up" during these final few days for a strong finish. Either way, here are five ideas of how we can better emphasize the "holy" in our Holy Weeks this year.

--Find one hour this Holy Week to dedicate to prayer

"Could you not keep watch for one hour?" (Mk 14:37). Breaking from his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night he was to be handed over, Jesus asks his ever-napping disciples why they can't manage to do as he asks for one hour. "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?" he questions them again (Mk 14:41). Can we spend one hour fully "awake" with the Lord? It could be in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It could be going for a walk outside. It could be reading the Bible in a quiet spot in your home. Whatever it is, whenever it is, make it one solid, uninterrupted hour dedicated to prayer.

--Keep your phone in a drawer for the Triduum

We all know that far too much of our time can be consumed with mindless scrolling. For me, it's news, quilting blogs or Instagram stories of moms being way more organized than I could ever hope to be. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday are the holiest days of the year, and the minutes (hours?) devoted to scrolling could be much better spent curled up with a spiritual book, working in the garden or simply giving your family undivided attention.

--Make peace with your neighbor

As we prepare to enter the glorious season of Easter, now is the time to smooth over any troubles in family relationships or friendships by offering an olive branch, either in the form of an "I'm sorry," or an "I forgive you." Our time is too short in this life, and the beckoning of heaven is too strong, to waste time in quarrels. Forgiveness is key to the Christian life, and Jesus will help us take the first step, if we but ask. As Rachel Muha, who forgave the killers of her 18-year-old son, said, "You forgive because God asks it of us, and then God takes care of the rest."

--Make one significant act of almsgiving

Lent is not over yet, and there's still time to engage in this important pillar of the season. It could be as simple as cleaning out your pantry and donating the findings to a parish food drive; making an offering to your diocesan appeal; or tithing part of that week's earnings to a charity of choice (reminder: the annual Good Friday collection goes to help Christians in the Holy Land). There are plenty of people in need, and sacrificing a bit of your own comfort for their good is what it means to live the Christian life well.

--Go to confession

No Holy Week is complete without the graces that come from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Don't worry if it's been a while; the priest is not there to judge, he is there to welcome you and relieve you of the burdens of your sin. Pope Francis has called the sacrament an "encounter of love," and so it is. Most parishes offer confessions at various times throughout the Triduum, so check your bulletin and find a time that suits your schedule. Or you can always make an appointment. Taking time to reflect upon our sins and to confess them with a contrite heart is the perfect preparation for Easter.

So there you have it: Five ways to enter into Holy Week with more intentionality and to leave, hopefully, with more reward. If you have other suggestions, I'd love to hear them (you can find me on social media pretty much anywhere). Wishing you your best Holy Week yet.