In 2004, when Mel Gibson released
his movie The Passion of the Christ,
it created quite a stir. Some people
I know were profoundly moved.
Others were turned off by what they
saw as excessive violence.
But no matter how people felt, the
fact that a movie based on the passion,
death and resurrection of Christ made
such a big impact already says a lot
about the story. Let’s face it, the Easter
story is a compelling one. It contains
themes of love, self-sacrifice, friendship,
forgiveness, betrayal, death,
redemption—all the stuff that makes
for a good drama. The entire Easter season
grabs us by the shoulders and
shakes us out of our complacency.
Watching the Drama Play Out
Even the services celebrated during
Holy Week and on Easter are dramatic.
For instance, during services on Good
Friday, the priest processes up the aisle
of the church carrying a giant wooden
cross, singing, “Behold, behold the
wood of the Cross, on which was hung our salvation.” People shout out during
the reading of the Gospel, “Crucify
him. Crucify him.” We approach the
cross, bowing in reverence and remembrance.
From Holy Thursday until Easter
Sunday, there is usually no music
played. But on Easter Sunday, most
churches rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection
with the organ, singing, trumpets and
a host of other instruments. The mood
of the liturgy certainly reinforces the
call for celebration. There’s no mistaking
that this is the Church’s greatest celebration.
Holy Week and Easter definitely take
us on a roller coaster of emotions.
Enjoy the Ride
While we’re experiencing this wild ride,
here are some suggestions for things
that you and your family can do:
• During Holy Week, read one of the
Gospel accounts of Jesus’ passion, death
and resurrection. Each one tells the
story from a slightly different perspective,
but they all convey the same
meaning. For instance, on Holy Thursday
read the section on the Last Supper
and the Garden of Gethsemane.
• Once you have read the Gospel stories,
put them into action. For instance,
go outside and take a walk, just as the
disciples did on the road to Emmaus
when they encountered Jesus after his
resurrection (Luke 24:13-31).
• On Good Friday, spend the afternoon
in silence and reflect on the sacrifice
Jesus made for us when he died on the
cross. Go and visit the grave of a loved
one, or say a prayer for someone who
has been betrayed, wrongly accused or
even killed for the things that he or
she believes in.
• Rent a movie about the Easter story,
such as the 1977 miniseries Jesus of
Nazareth directed by Franco Zeffirelli. The Passion of the Christ is another
option, but use your best judgment as
to whether or not it is appropriate for
each family member due to the violent
content and use of subtitles.
• In order to experience the many highs
and lows of the Easter season, make
an effort to attend as many of the Holy
Week services as possible. Each one is
special in its own way.
• Rejoice in Christ’s resurrection by
hosting an Easter brunch for family
and friends. Or visit a local park to
view the newly bloomed flowers. Whatever
you do, just celebrate!
• Enjoy this Easter season for the joyous
time in our faith that it is!
Next Month: I Am the Prodigal Mom