This week’s Joyful Noise is a republication of last week’s helpful column on preparing children for Holy Week and Pascha. As we prepare for the latter half of the week, beginning with today’s service of Holy Unction, it is even more valuable to read.
Taking the extra time to plan your Holy Week can feel overwhelming, but trust me: it’s worth it. As we draw near to Pascha, life gets busier. It’s Spring, after all, and usually all kinds activities ramp up around this time. But don’t let that take your focus away from the greatest holiday in our liturgical calendar: do less, so that you can do more.
Pascha doesn’t just happen to us–we have to participate in it by carving out space and time. It may mean saying no to very worthy commitments–sports, volunteering, clubs, friends, and more–in order to say yes to more celebration and togetherness in the faith. As with many things, the more effort you put in, the more you get out of it; so don’t hesitate to pour all your enthusiasm into the hard work of Holy Week!
Some things to consider:
- Take your kids out of school for a day, even the entire week, if you can. Many schools allow exemptions for students who participate in holidays not observed on the traditional calendar, and your priest will be happy to write a letter explaining the absence.
- Decide which services you’re going to prioritize with your family. Choose the ones that will work with the rhythm of your children’s lives (and if they interfere with bedtime, try more daytime services, or just bring them in their pajamas). With older children, let them express their opinion as to which services they want to attend most.
- Create a Pascha basket. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the end of the fast. Traditionally, a Pascha basket includes many kinds of foods that we fast from during Lent, but you don’t have to limit yourself to that. I’ve taken to budgeting fora few small gifts for my children on Pascha as a culturally American way to remind them that Pascha is just as important as (if not more than) Christmas.
For an even more fabulous guide to a having a good Holy Week with your children, please read the wise experience of Roxann Ashworth in her “Tips for a Good Holy Week With Children“, written for her parish, Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Linthicum, MD.