baby’s first holy week

Sweet boy, here we are. In the holiest of weeks.

It all started on Palm Sunday. You solemnly gumming the long green palm in your father’s hands. Your brothers waving their palms wildly around the air (bonus points for whacking a sibling in the eye). Me watching all of you, half wondering why we bother to bring you to church, half realizing that the wonder of Holy Week is to see it through a child’s eyes.

We will take you three boys to church three times this week: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday. I will prepare for each outing as I prepare for nearly everything as a mom of littles: with low expectations and plenty of snacks. As always, Holy Week will be nothing like what I envision and exactly what I need.

But here is a small secret I will share with you and only you. (Because you are new and mute and thus good at keeping secrets.)

You already know what this week is about. 

. . .

On Holy Thursday we wash feet. You know about this, too.

You know the warm water into which you stretch your wriggling limbs, your eyes darting to bathtub tiles as if you remember this sensation from long-ago, the wet dark warmth of womb. You are slippery in my arms holding you fast over the awkward tub ledge, laughing as your feet dance through clouds of bubbles.

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This holy week, we will slip off shoes and tug off socks and pour warm water over each other’s feet. There is so much of God in this simple truth of washing. How we serve one another in the most basic and bodily ways. How we help to transform dirty into clean. How we bend low to hold what is holy.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

. . .

On Holy Thursday we break bread. You know about this, too.

You know how to lunge for a crust of whatever we’re eating, chasing crumbs around your highchair tray with pudgy fingers. You join us at table now and open your mouth wide for a share of our food. And when you corner a big-enough piece and carefully connect hand to mouth with concentration, satisfaction stretches across your plumpest cheeks.

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This holy week, we will cup our hands to receive the One who came to be bread. There is so much of God in this simple truth of feeding. How we feed the least among us first. How we break ourselves open to become love for each other. How nourished we can be by the smallest taste of the divine.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

 . . .

On Good Friday we kiss what we love. You know about this, too. You are besieged by brotherly affection: kisses smacked on the top of your soft head, arms wrapped fierce around your tender neck, small hands tugging your toes. You erupt in grins when I cuddle your chin and you nuzzle your nose into my shoulder when I kiss you goodnight.

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This holy week, we will wait in line to bend down and venerate a stark wooden cross. There is so much of God in this simple truth of loving. How we lift up what the world overlooks. How we let what is soft meet what is hard. How we give daily thanks for life, even its sacrifices.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

. . .

On Holy Saturday we wait. You know about this, too.

You are already resigned to the fate of third children, waiting while someone else’s need is greater or screams are louder. Your wide eyes soak up your surroundings while you wait your turn for attention, quietly filing away whatever you glean from the chaos around you.

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There is so much of God in this simple truth of waiting. How we must keep faith through long stretches for a dream to grow. How hope can be the heaviest weight to bear. How love wins despite evidence to the contrary.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

. . .

On Holy Saturday we tell stories. You know this, too. You grab clunky board books at naptime as I whisper well-worn words in your ear. You bat the pages back and forth, and a knowing smile curls across your cheeks as we rock to the rhythm of rhymes I memorized ages ago.

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There is so much of God in this simple truth of telling stories. How stories make us who we are. How the divine mystery speaks through holy word. How sharing long-ago tales makes them real again before our eyes.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

. . .

On Easter Sunday we sing and we feast. You know about this, too.

You clap your hands for lullabies and Old McDonald, each new verse like an Alleluia of joy. You gulp down sweet peaches and smooth pears, devour messy scrambled eggs and slimy avocado chunks. You delight in music and meals, whatever sweetness is offered to fill you up.

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There is so much of God in this simple truth of singing and feasting. How celebration sets all five senses on fire with joy. How we are an Easter people, hard stones of our hearts rolled away to find an empty tomb echoing promise. How we cannot keep from singing.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

. . .

This is a hard and holy week. This is a hard and holy life.

What a gift to share it again, anew, with you.

28 thoughts on “baby’s first holy week

  1. My my, you are making me want to have a baby in my arms all over! thank you for this – seeing it through their eyes of wonder! may the snacks last and the smiles never fade this week mom! You are welcome to visit my reflections over at http://www.jennihh.blogspot.sg — it’s a more direct lectio of Jesus’ final days.

  2. “I will prepare for each outing as I prepare for nearly everything as a mom of littles: with low expectations and plenty of snacks. As always, Holy Week will be nothing like what I envision and exactly what I need.”

    Laura, these last two blog entries of yours have really gotten me. This one makes me laugh, and yet, as I type, I just cry. I’m joyful. In awe. Experiencing a deep resonance in my heart, appreciating your contemplative stance in this hectic world.

    Thank you for your authentic and joyful witness to the world!

  3. Beautiful Laura, thank you! This is our third little one’s first Holy Week too, on top of which, she will be baptized at the Vigil…which has my incredible excitement and joy equally matched by my nervousness at a 6 month old and two pre-schoolers making it through the longest Mass of the year! This was a helpful reminder. Thank you!

  4. Oh, this is beautiful! (And your baby is delightful…I can’t wait until I’m blessed with another little one!) You’ve inspired me to pick up some new Holy Week traditions- I think we’ll bake bread and wash feet and have lots of story time on Saturday. Thank you!

  5. These are some truly insightful thoughts and inspiring ideas! The Easter Vigil is my favorite because it reminds me of my own homecoming into the church, but it’s not the easiest one to make as a young family. So I love these ideas to incorporate the spirit of the different days in an interactive, kid-friendly way!

  6. Your writing always moves me! After dealing with 3 miscarriages, I always end up with tears! This year, we are going to make some new traditions with our 3 children!

  7. Beautiful post. My favorite day of Holy Week is Holy Saturday. The entire day is abuzz with anticipation as we make our final preparations for Easter and get ready to attend the Easter Vigil that evening. Starting Mass at the fire pit outside, then processing in to the dark church with our candles… the lights turn on as we sing the Gloria for the first time in weeks…all the new members of the church receiving the sacraments of initiation…then my kids’ favorite part – cake in the parish hall after Mass at 11pm! It has often seemed crazy taking a bunch of little kids to a 3 hour Mass that starts at bedtime, but I’m so grateful that it has become our family tradition and that my children consider it an essential part of celebrating Easter.

  8. Laura, this was just beautiful! It’s been many years since we had “littles” for mass – my children are all grown now, but no grandchildren(yet!). But in a way, going back to just the simple things seems like a very good idea for this year. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. Holy Thursday has always captivated me in the powerful symbols of the liturgy. Since the death of my daughter though, Holy Saturday has a new place in my heart. Thank you for the opportunity to win the set of three scripture studies.

  10. Love this post! My favorite day of holy week is Good Friday. I attend our beautifully done Tenebrae (with or without kids in tow) and it’s such a moving experience every time.

  11. Love this post! My favorite day of Holy Week is Good Friday. I have never tried to take our kids to the Triduum Masses – just too late and too long and too crowded that I felt I’d be setting them/us up for failure. But we have developed a whole Triduum of kid-friendly traditions, reenactments, processions, baking, feet-washing, etc that meets the children where they’re at. I’m so thankful for al the Catholic blogger moms who have shared their ideas over the years that have helped us create our child-friendly observance of Holy Week.

  12. I love how you have opened my eyes to seeing Holy Week in a new way— through my everyday as a mom. Makes me feel more connected when life is always crazy as a mom.

  13. I am so thankful I stumbled upon you on insta. Your words and reassurance of mom life and setbacks and assumed failure ( on my part) have lifted my spirits in so many ways. You have all boys! I’m a mom of boys too. You’re funny! And real!
    You remind me of Gods love. His redeeming love. Thank you!
    My favorite week is upon us. My favorite Mass in the liturgical year is Holy Thursday. It’s such a sad awful Mass ( don’t know what that says about me) but I love the way it prepares me for Easter. I try to share this with my boys but at 9 and 4, it’s a struggle. But we go.
    Have a blessed Holy Week momma!

  14. What a lovely way to ring in Holy Week and to be reminded of simplicity. My favorite day of Holy Week is Holy Thursday and the Washing of the Feet. My husband and I washed each other’s feet as a symbol of our covenant when we married and the L’Arche community we are a part of also uses the Foot Washing as a profound gesture of service. Oh but then there is Good Friday’s passion and walking to the Cross just to bow down and kiss the wooden symbol of sacrificial love, tears streaming down my face. The visceral suspension between life and death, grief and joy, and the promise of renewal and rebirth.

  15. Holy Thursday is my favorite day of the Triduum! I made my first communion on Holy Thursday as a child, and have felt a special infinity to it ever since. But as a mother, it’s grown to mean even more to me. As I wrote once in response to the question of why I bring young, squirrly, up-past-their-bedtime kids to my favorite liturgy of the year: “Because the reasons why tonight is my favorite (the presence of Christ, the humble service, the feasting and fearing together with those you love) are my favorite things about being their mother, too.” This day teaches me something deeper every year!

  16. Good Friday is my favorite day of the Holy week. We have a ritual of going to Mother Cabrini Shrine (we live in Colorado) and meditate on the Stations of the Cross after attending the Liturgy of the Passion. It is a quiet and peaceful place to be on Good Friday.
    Thank you for the giveaway Laura!

  17. Holy Thursday with its foot washing is one of my favorite. Entering the giveaway. I enjoy your writing, honesty, and everyday life observations.

  18. Such a hard question to answer because I love the whole Triduum so much, have since I was a child, grew up in a parish with Franciscans who were right up there in front before Vatican II with the liturgical movement. I have favorite parts of each. I love all of Holy Thursday but love the washing of the feet, especially loved the way we used to do it in our parish, with representatives of each age group in the parish, including a First Communicant and a Confirmandee, a “senior,”a disabled person, etc. My favorite part of Good Friday is the Veneration of the Cross. And I love all the parts of the Easter Vigil!

  19. I think I am starting to appreciate Good Friday more and more. I have gone to th Good Friday service by myself for the last 2 years and have found it very beautiful. It also happens to be my twins’ first Holy Week and Easter this year. I loved your ideas in the newsletter. Maybe we will implement 1 or 2 (my kids are all under 6 so taking them to triduum masses isn’t going to happen).

  20. I really love the end of Holy Thursday mass when the Blessed Sacrament is reposed. I also love when we go from darkness to light and sing the Gloria at Holy Saturday mass. 🙂

  21. I spent several years as an interloper in the Anglican Church and I loved the stripping of the altar after the communion on Maundy Thursday. I reverted to Catholicism the year I had my first baby so I haven’t been to a Catholic Holy Thursday mass in years and I don’t think it’s done now in our rite but it sure is a beautiful, stark reminder.

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