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A Holy Week Timeline Overview: How to Live the Days Liturgically

by MercyWorks on March 27, 2024

The finish line of our forty-day journey is finally upon the horizon: Holy Week. It’s the final push to the glorious day of the Resurrection. As Easter draws near, the Church calls us to not lessen our Lenten sacrifices, but rather recommit ourselves more fully to God.

Spanning from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, Holy Week is an invitation to walk alongside Jesus during His final days on earth. Through the traditions and rich liturgies of the Church, we can immerse ourselves in these events to arrive at Easter morning full of joy.

Let’s take a closer look at the Holy Week timeline and how you can leave each day of this week in accordance with the liturgical schedule. 

The Triumphant Entrance to Jerusalem: What Happens on Palm Sunday? 

On Palm Sunday, we commemorate Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. On this day, the streets were filled with crowds waving palm branches and shouting, "Hosanna!" as Christ entered the city upon a humble donkey. This is a moment of joyful celebration and anticipation, as Jesus is hailed as the long-awaited Messiah.

How to live it liturgically: Participate in a local Palm Sunday procession. Take up your own palm and process alongside the congregation, welcoming in Holy Week and proclaiming Jesus as King. 

Cleansing the Temple: Holy Monday

Holy Monday commemorates the scene of Jesus cleansing the Temple, where He confronts the corruption and exploitation taking place in a sacred space meant for prayer and worship. His righteous anger serves as a stark reminder, challenging us to examine our own lives for areas of spiritual clutter.

How to live it liturgically: Just as Jesus cleared the physical space of the Temple, He also calls us to tidy our personal space, both in our physical environment and within our hearts. If available, seek the Sacrament of Confession today to declutter your heart and soul of sin in preparation  for Easter.

Christ’s Teaching and Prophecy: Holy Tuesday 

On Holy Tuesday, Jesus imparts a wealth of profound teachings and prophetic revelations. Just two days prior to His betrayal, He faced questioning from the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Temple regarding His authority. Later in the afternoon, Christ withdraws to the Mount of Olives, where He delivers the Olivet Discourse—a prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age. His words not only challenge our understanding but also call us to deepen our trust in Him.

How to live it liturgically: Dedicate this day to the study of Scripture. Set a time and place and choose a specific Gospel passage to meditate on. Consider praying with Lectio Divina as a guide to more meditative prayer.  

The Betrayal by Judas Iscariot: Spy Wednesday

On Spy Wednesday, Judas Iscariot, one of Christ’s closest disciples and friends, betrays Jesus. For a mere 30 pieces of silver, he turned Jesus into the religious authorities to be handed over to death. 

Why is it Called Spy Wednesday?

Wednesday of Holy Week is known as Spy Wednesday because it refers to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, who was considered a "spy" among the apostles. The name "Spy Wednesday" gained popularity in the Roman Catholic tradition and is associated with the Gospel accounts describing Judas' secret agreement with the chief priests to betray Jesus.

How to live it liturgically: Reach out to someone you have been estranged from or offer forgiveness to another you may have been withholding. In the spirit of Christ’s mercy, offer peace to those you have been troubled with in the past to enter into the Triduum more fully. 

The Last Supper and the Institution of the Eucharist: Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, where Jesus shared His final meal with His disciples and instituted the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith. He also washed the feet of His disciples, demonstrating the importance of humility.

How to live it liturgically: Attend Holy Thursday Mass, or also known as the Mass of the Last Supper. Participate in the ceremonial feet washing and be reminded of the call to humility in Christ’s actions.

The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus: Good Friday 

On Good Friday, we commemorate the crucifixion and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is a day of deep reflection and mourning as we recall His ultimate sacrifice for our salvation. It is believed that Christ breathed his last breath around three in the afternoon.

How to live it liturgically: Attend the stations of the cross or veneration of the cross at your parish on this day. While there are no masses celebrated on Good Friday, attend one of these liturgies to meditate upon the profound significance of our Savior’s death. If you are unable to attend, take time around 3 pm to spend a few moments in silent reflection.

Waiting in Hope: Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is a day of anticipation and hope as we wait for the resurrection of Christ. On this day, Christ descends into hell to redeem all the souls that have gone before us.

How to live it liturgically: Before the festivities of Easter Sunday, take this day as an opportunity for personal retreat and prayer. Find a quiet space and create an atmosphere to ponder the truth that Christ has defeated the grave. If you’re able, attend the Easter Vigil in the evening to welcome in the newest members of Our Church!

Easter Sunday: The Resurrection Of Christ

Easter Sunday is the glorious celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is a day of joy triumph as we rejoice in His victory over sin and death.

How to live it liturgically: Attend the Mass of the Resurrection! There is no better way to celebrate this feast than receiving our Lord in the Eucharist. 

Pray Through the Events of Holy Week With a Humble Heart

Holy Week invites us to immerse ourselves in the journey of Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection, offering us the opportunity to grow in love of Him. Let us approach this week with a greater desire to walk these days with our Lord intentionally, step by step alongside Him. 

To help further your spiritual growth through Easter, we invite you to participate in The Via Lucis, an Easter devotional series celebrating the resurrection of Christ. Pray with our missionaries from Easter morning to the feast of Pentecost and journey with our Risen Lord.



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