This Holy Week will be different. We won’t keep watch by the Blessed Sacrament or line up to venerate the cross or pass little candle flames down the pews until the entire church is aglow. Those who are able will watch the Holy Triduum on TV screens, and we will all ache for the glory of those holy days and the holiest of nights, longing to smell the burning incense and share the sign of peace with our loved ones.
It’s okay to cry because we can’t celebrate Holy Week in our churches. I’ve shed more than a few tears about it. But this Holy Week, deprived of the beautiful liturgies that we anticipate all year, we are asked to let the Paschal Mystery unfold in the intimacy of our own homes; perhaps, to be closer to the crucified and risen Christ than we ever thought possible.
This year, Christ will break bread at your dinner table. He will weep and sweat blood in the light of the waning moon falling through your bedroom window. He will be led away to your kitchen to be scourged, he will be crowned with thorns in the corner of your bathroom, he will carry his heavy cross up the stairs and down the hallway, and he will be crucified above the very bed where you lay down each night. And when the stone is rolled away, you will find him standing in the middle of your living room, his light revealing every dancing particle of dust and illuminating every corner of the place you’ve seen a thousand times but never quite like this. I think that this year, Jesus of Nazareth wants to whisper his sorrowful, glorious story quietly into your ear—without choirs, lights, or burning frankincense. Because even though it’s a terrible loss to go without the Holy Week liturgies—and in particular the Easter Vigil—your savior is coming right into the midst of your home, close enough to let you lay your head on his chest.
I think this year we’re invited to let our longing for the solemn splendor of Holy Week inspire in us an even greater longing for Jesus himself. And when we arrive at the place where all our incense rose to, when we behold that gentle face who came to us in our own homes, we will say “ah, there is something greater than the Easter Vigil here.”