‘I desire to eat the Passover in your home’ #EasterAtHome

10 April 2020
Image: Shutterstock.


As Pope Francis pointed out in his video message for Holy Week, Christians are celebrating Easter this year in “a truly unusual way.” How can we respond to Jesus’ statement: “I desire to eat the Passover in your house”?

In his video message ahead of Holy Week, Pope Francis said social distancing measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 mean that “through us, the Easter Gospel will resound in the silence of our cities.”

How can we celebrate the Easter Triduum liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday?

By accepting Jesus’ invitation which we heard in the Palm Sunday proclamation of the Passion: “I desire to east the Passover in your house” (Matthew 26:18).

Getting our house ready

So, let’s get our houses ready to welcome Jesus! This demands creativity.

The “creativity of love,” as Pope Francis is calling it.

With this article, we’d like to provide some background on each of the Easter Triduum liturgies, as well as ideas for preparing the place where our families will participate in the liturgies through TV, radio, or social media.

As part of this initiative, we invite you to share your ideas and photos of the sacred places created in your homes. You can do this on Vatican News’ social media platforms and by using #EasterAtHome or #JesusInMyHome.

A sacred space set up in front of the television by the Boatswain family, parishioners from the Granville Catholic Community during Palm Sunday. Image: Anthony Boatswain/Holy Trinity Church Granville/Facebook.

What is a liturgy?

Each liturgy that we participate in unfolds a specific mystery. It is a memorial of God’s intervention in human history in a specific time and place. When we participate in a liturgy we take part in a memorial of one of these events. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this:

“In the sense of Sacred Scripture, a memorial is not merely the recollection of past events but the proclamation of the mighty works wrought by God for us. In the liturgical celebration of these events, they become in a certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to them.

“In the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning. When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ’s Passover, and it is made present the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present. ‘As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which “Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed” is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out’ (1363-4).”

Therefore, in the case of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the liturgies making up the Easter Triduum, the events that happened 2,000 years ago become present to us liturgically. Furthermore, the liturgy allows the “mighty works” of God to extend throughout time, and allows the effects of these works to touch us.

Easter Triduum

With the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening, we enter into one liturgy that covers three days. It includes the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion and the Easter Vigil as well. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper does not conclude with the blessing of the faithful. Instead, it continues with the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday. That liturgy does not begin with the Sign of the Cross, nor is there the customary penitential rite or the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Triduum reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and ends with Vespers, or Evening Prayer, on Easter Sunday evening.

Holy Thursday

The specific “mighty works” that we remember during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper are:

  • the Lord’s Last Supper with His disciples,
  • the institution of the Holy Eucharist,
  • the institution of the ministerial priesthood
  • the institution of the commandment of love, ritualised with the washing of feet. The latter ritual will not be performed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ideas for preparing a sacred space at home

  • blessed objects
  • a table prepared as if guests were coming over
  • an empty place reserved to remind us of Jesus’ presence
  • items to help us image what happened during the Last Supper
  • sacred images that will help remind us of Jesus
  • First Communion certificates of each of those present

A display of the Last Supper in the home of Jackie Kizana, a parishioner of the Granville Catholic Community, in honour of Holy Thursday. Image: Jackie Kizana/Holy Trinity Church Granville/Facebook.

Good Friday

The specific “mighty works” that we remember during the Good Friday liturgy are:

  • the Lord’s death on the cross,
  • our redemption from sin,
  • the gift of Mary as our Mother

This Liturgy begins with the prostration of the celebrant on the floor, the proclamation of the Lord’s Passion, a series of prolonged prayers called “Solemn Intercessions”, the veneration of the cross, and a communion service, in which hosts which have already been consecrated are distributed in Holy Communion.

Ideas for preparing a sacred space at home

  • blessed objects, especially a crucifix or an image of Our Lady
  • a setting that helps us think of Calvary, perhaps with 3 crosses
  • something that looks like a tomb

Holy Saturday

The specific “mighty works” that we remember during Holy Saturday are:

  • Jesus’s descent to the “abode of the dead”, the deliverance of the “holy souls who awaited their Saviour in Abraham’s bosom” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 633).
  • God, in the Person of Jesus, rests once again on the seventh day

Ideas for preparing a sacred space at home

  • objects conducive of a garden scene
  • tomb that is sealed
  • silence

Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday

The specific “mighty works” that we remember during the Easter Vigil are:

  • Jesus’s Resurrection
  • Jesus’s triumph over death and all sin and evil
  • Jesus opens heaven to us and gives us new life
  • We are reinstated in God’s grace as His children
  • Our own future resurrection from the dead

The Easter Vigil begins with the lighting of the Paschal fire and candle (this year, the lighting of the Paschal fire will not take place), the Easter proclamation (also known as the Exsultet), a prolonged Liturgy of the Word recalling the Story of Salvation, renewal of our Baptismal promises. After this, the liturgy proceeds as usual.

Ideas for preparing a sacred space at home

  • the same tomb scene used on Holy Saturday, this time opened up
  • symbols of angels and saints
  • Baptismal certificates of all those present
  • candles we have been given when we received the various Sacraments (e.g., baptismal candle, unity candle)

A special Easter

As we celebrate the most sacred Mysteries of our Faith, let us all make room in our homes and in our hearts to welcome the Risen Lord.

With thanks to Vatican News and Sr Bernadette Mary Reis fsp, where this article originally appeared.


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