Holy Week Prayer Resources

Passion Sunday  |  Holy Monday  |  Holy Tuesday  |  Holy Wednesday  |  Holy Thursday  |  Good Friday  |  Holy Saturday

 

Passion Sunday

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the Highest.
Luke 19:38

Reflection:

Passion Sunday - Cross made out of palm fronds

We are at the beginning of Holy Week. If we want truly to be Christian, this week ought to be a time when we share in a special way in the passion of Christ. We do this not so much by indulging in pious feelings,but by bearing the burdens of our life with simple fortitude and without ostentation. For we share by faith in the passion of our Lord precisely by realizing that our life is a participation in his destiny. We find this difficult, because so often we fail to understand that the bitterness and burden of our own life do-or should-give us a mysterious share in the destiny of all human beings .... If we were aware of this ... we would understand that his passion is the unique acceptance of the passion of humankind, in which it is accepted, suffered, redeemed, and freed into the mystery of God.1

Prayer:

Jesus, our Savior, you came with a message of love and forgiveness; you offered us joy and fullness of life. Generation after generation we have scorned your love and destroyed your life among us. Have mercy on us. Let your Holy Spirit overcome our weakness that we may rise courageously to the challenge of following you. This we ask in your name, Eternal Word, one with the Source of all Being and with the Holy Spirit for all ages. Amen.

 

Holy Monday

Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
John 12:3

Reflection:

...one understands so well now our dear Lord's prayer in Gethsemane, his fear, and his courage. But whatever happens in the future, it seems to me that in this which we are now experiencing, he is saying, "Fear not, it is I." I can't explain, but several times today, when I felt I could really cave in, suddenly, right in the midst of myself, his voice seemed to say that, "Fear not, it is I," and I felt vaguely that somehow or other our becoming Christ-the consummation of our love for him-has to take this form of knowing something of his Passion, so that even the feeling of fear, and the awful moments when one just wants to cry and cry like a child, need not shame us, because they are all part of Christ's own experience in us.2

Prayer:

Jesus, on the eve of your passion and death, you found comfort in the company of your friends. In the truest sign of friendship, you gave your life for them and for us. Help us to live the call of the gospel more deeply. Let our relationship with one another be a sign ofyour presence. Help us to live and die in your love, that we may live with you forever. Amen.

 

Holy Tuesday

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.'
John 13:21

Reflection :

The cross is to be understood as God's solidarity with men and women in the condition of human suffering-not to eternalize it, but to suppress it. And the manner in which God seeks to suppress it is not by domination, but by love. Christ preached and lived this new dimension. He was rejected by a "world" oriented toward the preservation of power. He succumbed to these forces. But he never abandoned his project of love. The cross is the symbol of human power-and the symbol of Jesus' love and fidelity. Love is stronger than death, and power collapses before it. The loyalty of the cross, then, the love on the cross, has triumphed. The name for this is resurrection: a life stronger than the life of power, biological life, the life of the ego.3

Prayer:

O God, we praise you in the gift of Jesus, given to us for our salvation. We ask you to forgive us for our sins and failings that prevent the coming of your reign and continue to nail his followers to a cross. Give us the grace to change our lives and to let the life of Jesus bear fruit in us. We ask this in his name. Amen.

 

Holy Wednesday

'The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.' Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, 'Surely it is not I, Rabbi?' He answered, 'You have said so.'
Matthew 26:24-25

Reflection :

The Christ who went to the poor like steel to a magnet was poor himself. He was poor in his origins and in his birth, but even more so when he left behind the uncertain but more or less stable life of a village tradesman and took to wandering about the country without job, home or income. Yet finally even that was not enough, for cultural and economic poverty only symbolize the deeper poverty of human beings. The deepest poverty is the lack of God, and only a poor God could be vulnerable enough to share that, a God who had 'emptied himself and become obedient even to death', as the poor have to be, who die young at the will of others. The poor Christ is not just the wandering preacher who had nowhere to sleep unless somebody took him in, he is above a the one who died.4

Prayer:

Jesus, you spent the years of your ministry sharing the word of God and your healing power with all who would receive them. You approached your passion with a heart broken by sorrow but overflowing with love for God and for us. Have mercy on us. Keep us faithful to your gospel that we may end our days faithful to you. We ask this for the glory of your name. Amen.

 

Holy Thursday

Peter said to him, 'You will never wash my feet.' Jesus answered him, 'Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.'
John 13:8

Reflection:

Holy Thursday - Washing of the feet

Enter into the mystery of being master and servant. Look at your neighbors and pick up the towel. With authority grounded in humility, kneel before them and wash off the dirt of daily living. If you are the neighbor in need of washing, lay aside your pride and, like Peter, accept the service of the one kneeling before you. Then go, and do likewise. Be blessed as you wash the feet of others and reveal the face of the Master through the towel in your hands.5

Prayer:

Christ Jesus, our Savior, you have given us a memorial of your life and death. As we are nourished by your body and blood, open our minds and hearts to your Spirit that we too may give ourselves totally to the salvation of your people. Let the bread of life make us one with you and with one another. Amen. 

 

Good Friday

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
Luke 23:46

Reflection:

Good Friday - Thorn crown and palms

The cry of Jesus on the cross at the very end was, therefore the cry of awareness that all was indeed accomplished, brought to its consummation. He knew that he could, at last, give back to the One he loved the unshackled fullness of love, and in so doing carry with him on the surge of that passion the love which is the essential being of all creation. This is, in a sense, the moment of resurrection, or rather it is the moment at which that process begins, for the resurrection is not a single event but the ever-extending 'outflow' of the energy previously dammed up by the power of sin and death.6

Prayer:

Merciful God, you so loved the world that you sent Jesus to save us. He showed his love for us by his life and his death on the cross. Give us the grace to respond with all our minds and hearts with a love that transforms us into a people worthy of you. Teach us to live in you and for one another as Jesus taught us. Amen.

 

Holy Saturday

Since we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that Christ has been raised from death and will never die again, death will no longer rule over him.
Romans 6:8-9

Reflection:

Holy Saturday - Eucharist

We know from our own experience of pain, that it can free us for creative transformation, or it can embitter us to the point of rebellion by its lack of meaning. It can be destructive or creative. Whether suffering becomes a source of creativity depends in part on how the individual treats it and reacts to it. One of the outstanding marks of a mature person is seeking value in the face of suffering. Never to seek the suffering, but its meaning when suffering seeks us! For suffering is a meaning. The instance of this that will forever be our hope is Christ's despairing cry and prayer from the cross, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" and that utterly tender surrender, "Into your hands I commit my spirit." This is the one who on the very night that he was betrayed gave himself for us. Betrayal can break a person, but Jesus accepted being broken and told us plainly: "This body which is broken is given for you."7

Prayer:

O God, by his life and his death on the cross, Jesus has revealed the depth of your love for us. One in our flesh, he became one in our dying and burial. Have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and once again call us to life that we may be one with him in his resurrection. This we ask through Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.

 

Other Resources:

Holy Week Reflections 2022 - A Pilgrimage of Dangerous Journeys


Sources:

  1. Karl Rahner, The Great Church Year, p. 140-41, (2)
  2. The Letters of Caryll Houselander, p. 23, (5)
  3. Leonardo Boff, Passion of Christ, Passion of the World, p. 110, (22)
  4. Rosemary Haughton, The Passionate God, p. 328
  5. Alma L. Maish, Master and Servant, (4)
  6. Rosemary Haughton, The Passionate God, p. 153, (1)
  7. Miriam Elder, OCD, (11)

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