I saw a phrase on social media recently that seemed to sum the season up nicely: “This is the Lent-iest Lent we ever Lented.”
Fasting and abstinence definitely got taken to a whole new level this year. We are mourning the loss of the Eucharist, Sundays at our actual Church, and seeing any human we aren’t blood-related to. I will admit that in the midst of my grief, I’m so thankful to live in a technological age where we have the option to stream the Sacred Mysteries right into our homes. Why not embrace it and treat our homes like the Churches they have to be for the time being?
Since I’ve got a new house, a garden and a decorating itch that hasn’t been scratched for far too long, I thought I’d share a few simple ways I’m preparing our home for Holy Week. I’m no Joanna Gaines or Kendra Tierney, but I hope this will help inspire you to get creative in these strange days.
While the liturgy is dense and rich this coming week, the decor is supposed to be sparse so the things you’ll need for your domestic church should be on hand or easy to find.
If you haven’t started watching mass at home, I highly encourage you to do so. Click here for some great pointers on how to set the stage.
Our TV is large which helps the mass take over our room when we stream it. The speakers double as nice pedestals for pillar candles (purple advent candles would also work well), and I added some greenery in mason jars that is passing as our “palms” (more on that in the next section). Our couch is nice and stiff to keep us sitting upright, and our ottoman serves well to lean against when kneeling.
Whether your TV is large, small or you use your computer or tablet, these little items are quick and easy to add to help recreate the altar feel.
To create a home altar in our entry way, I used larger fronds of the same greenery flanking the TV. We don’t have any palm-like plants growing around our house, but they definitely have the palm “feel”, so I’m counting it as a win. I stacked empty frames to define the space without adding ornament.
To switch from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, I found branches that have both thorns and leaves, and felt the starkness of the clear vase more appropriate. (Anyone else getting a tomb vibe from those frames?)
If you don’t have anything palm-y or thorn-y you like around your home, take a CDC-approved outing to a local park or creek area for a scavenger hunt for greenery (keep an eye out for wildflowers to go back and pick for your Easter bouquets).
For palms: long grasses, palm-like plants that grow by creeks or in boggy areas, feathery ferns
For thorny stems: non-flowering roses, brambles, wild blackberry branches that can be fashioned into a crown of thorns (definitely wear gloves).
*Someone suggested to me that churches likely ordered palms before the quarantine, so you may consider calling your local parish or checking the website to see if they happen to have blessed palms being offered via drive through.
Statues and Images.
Statues and images in the church are covered beginning the Sunday before Holy Week, through the end of Good Friday.
While it may appear counterintuitive to veil statues and images during the final weeks of Lent, the Catholic Church recommends this practice to heighten our senses and build within us a longing for Easter Sunday. It is a tradition that should not only be carried out in our local parish, but can also be a fruitful activity for the “domestic church” to practice.Read more on the Why and How of veiling in this article from Aleteia.
This week, go around your home and cover and any images, statues and crucifixes you have on display.
Things you have on hand that could work as covers include: washcloths, napkins, placemats, tablecloths, handtowels, handkerchiefs, etc., ideally well cleaned, with little to no design, and purple in color (I only had deep blue and black on hand). Secure the fabrics as needed with tape or string.
Get Dressed Up.
As you dress up your home, it’s just as important to dress up yourself. I know it can be tough when we aren’t going anywhere, but it’s the perfect time to remember that it doesn’t matter where we are who we are with, we are always in the presence of God.
The first weekend we had mass at home, we went all out with getting dressed up. I even wore heels. It wasn’t until the next weekend when we watched mass in far more casual attire that I realized how important this is.
It’s hard to be at home among our chores and creature comforts and immerse ourselves in the mass. This little bit of effort goes a long way in making the mass more tangible.
A note for those with kiddos: When watching mass at home, remember to be realistic with your expectations and gracious when the kids lose interest. They are after all still in the place where they have easy access to toys and food, and it will take more than greenery and a change of clothes to change their focus. It’s ok! If you can, take this as an opportunity to explain what’s going on to them out loud without distracting fellow parishioners, and let it go if it doesn’t pan out.
Do you have other ideas to share?? Post them in the comments!
Resources for Holy Week at Home
For all my planning people, get a jump on setting your Easter table with a gorgeous set of plates, cups and napkins below.