In certain places, the celebration of Holy Week is not strictly observed unless you are situated in a predominant catholic country. If you are a Christian, a Catholic for that matter, residing in a country such as the United States where Holy Week is not considered as an important non-working official holiday, there is a need to plan ahead on how to make the Holy Week a meaningful one, especially if with working engagements to attend to. U.S. employers typically would want minimum notice for vacation leave applications, otherwise, you may end up opting for a “sick call” or not observing Holy Week at all, which is quite sad.
Here are some tips for working people on how they can spend their Holy Week really holy should they find no time and the luxury to sneak out of work:
1. Check the Holy Week services in the churches near your work places or your homes. This will serve as your guidelines for church services during Holy Week. For instance, the churches under the Diocese of New York and the Diocese of Rockville Centre celebrate Reconciliation Monday. This is the Monday of Holy Week where some churches practice all-day confession and others would offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the late afternoon and evening, from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm, a schedule which is very accessible to working people.
2. During Holy Week, there are churches and parish organizations which hold “The Way of the Cross” during evenings, normally 8:00 pm. The rationale for this is for working parishioners to join in the said undertaking. The Way or the Stations of the Cross is one way of offering your love to the Lord, by following in His footsteps to Calvary.
3. Plan ahead for your Holy Thursday (Washing of the Feet) and Good Friday (Seven Last Words and the Passion and Death of Jesus) services as these are the more important days of the Holy Week. You may ask permission from/negotiate with your employers and management if necessary, that is, if you can apply for a half-day leave to attend the said services.
4. If worse comes to worst, that is, there is no way to get out from your jobs, at least take an extra effort to meditate on the Stations of the Cross and its significance on one’s life, while on trains, buses or in your car on your way to office or back home. Do some self-sacrifice or acts of mortification. Undertake some works of charity with the people you meet in the workplace , particularly those in need or even to the most hated officemate.
5. On Holy Saturday, have time to visit the Blessed Sacrament and spend a meaningful and quiet time with the Lord, even for a short moment, for 30 minutes.
6. First things first, attend the Easter Sunday mass with family and loved ones before celebrating the day outside the Church services. Thereafter, it is time for everyone to be happy and rejoice in the Resurrection of the Lord by having an Easter feast or some games for the kids.
We should not take for granted the Holy Week services. Holy Week is celebrated once a year and it is the special moment for us to pause and meditate on the sufferings, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and to feel holy and look happy at the end of the day! Regardless on how we spend our Holy Week, it is deemed important that we don’t forget its real intent, meaning and impact on our lives.