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  • Writer's pictureLauren

Liturgical Living for Busy Families in March

Welcome to March and the liturgical season of Lent! March is also traditionally reserved for St. Joseph, and, coincidentally, this year is also the Year of St. Joseph. In this post, you’ll find ideas for honoring our spiritual father, St. Joseph, all month long, as well as ideas for celebrating special Sundays during Lent and a smattering of feast days. Be sure to tag me @thecontemplativehomemaker on Instagram or Facebook in your feast day festivities and use the hashtag #contemplativehomemaking. I’d love to see how you’re celebrating! Happy feasting!

  • All Month Long – St. Joseph

  • March 3 – St. Katharine Drexel

  • March 4 – St. Casimir

  • March 7 – Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

  • March 8 – St. John of God

  • March 9 – St. Frances of Rome

  • March 14 – Laetare Sunday (4th Sunday of Lent in 2021) and St. Matilda

  • March 17 – St. Patrick

  • March 18 – St. Cyril of Jerusalem

  • March 21 – Passion Sunday (5th Sunday of Lent in 2021)

  • March 19 – Solemnity of St. Joseph

  • March 23 – St. Turibius of Mogrovejo

  • March 24 – St. Catherine of Sweden

  • March 25 – The Annunciation

  • March 28 – Palm Sunday

  • March 29 and 30 – Beginning of Holy Week

  • March 31 – Spy Wednesday

All Month Long – St. Joseph

In case you missed it, Pope Francis proclaimed this year, from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021, to be the Year of St. Joseph. The Church has always devoted the month of March to St. Joseph, but this year is the first year an entire liturgical year has been placed under his special patronage. You can read more about the Year of St. Joseph as well as learn about the patron saint of the Universal Church, fathers, a happy death, and workers here.

The opportunities for developing a relationship with your spiritual father this month and throughout the year are endless, but here are a few to really put into practice this month:

  • Pray a “Josary,” or the Rosary of St. Joseph as recommended by Scott Hahn here

  • Add one of the traditional prayers to St. Joseph to the end of your regular rosary, such as the one here

  • Start a Consecration to St. Joseph, or recite a daily Consecration to St. Joseph or other prayer to St. Joseph as a family

  • Attend Mass on Wednesdays in honor of St. Joseph, the day of the week traditionally set aside by the Church to recognize St. Joseph

  • Pray specially throughout the month for the holiness of priests and all fathers

  • Undertake one or more of the special plenary indulgences granted by the Holy See for the Year of St. Joseph

  • Practice the Seven Sundays of St. Joseph (while traditionally the devotion is begun the seven Sundays prior to St. Joseph's feast on March 19, you can do the devotion any time throughout the year)

  • Listen to Part 1 and Part 2 of the Saints and Sages Podcast episode on St. Joseph or listen to the Abiding Together Podcast season 9 episode 5 on St. Joseph

For special ideas for celebrating the Solemnity of St. Joseph on March 19, read on below!

March 3 - St. Katharine Drexel

Catherine Marie Drexel was a Philadelphia heiress born in 1858 who, on a trip out West while riding in a comfortable train car, was deeply moved by the plight of the Native Americans. At an audience with Pope Leo XIII, she related to him the deplorable conditions of the Native Americans and African Americans. To her surprise, the Pope suggested she should become a missionary to help them! Catherine followed his advice and established the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, becoming Mother Katharine, for the express purpose of educating and caring for Native and African Americans. When she renounced her fortune, newspaper headlines declared, "Miss Drexel Enters a Catholic Convent -- Gives Up Seven Million!"

The KKK was none too happy about Mother Katharine's charity and was especially incensed at the idea white priests and religious should be helping blacks and Native Americans. They burned one of her schools to the ground and smashed all the windows in at another, leaving a threatening note that they would flog, tar, and feather any Catholics who continued to work with Mother Katharine. Within days, a violent storm destroyed the Klan's headquarters, leaving all of Mother Katharine's buildings spared. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament continue to work with African and Native Americans today in 21 states and Haiti, and St. Katharine is the patron saint of racial justice.

Today, donate to the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament if you are able and pray for their work. Also pray today through the intercession of St. Katharine for an end to racial prejudice and bigotry. Listen to Episode 8 of the Saint Stories for Kids Podcast to learn more about St. Katharine Drexel! For the adults, check out this two part series on St. Katharine Drexel from the Saints and Sages Podcast (Part 1 and Part 2).

March 4 – St. Casimir

Casimir was born into a Polish royal family in 1458. Despite his privileged status (he was in direct line to the throne!), Casimir learned to embrace a life of prayer and austerity from his teacher, John Dlugosz.

At age 13 and at his father's command, Casimir led his father's army in an invasion of Hungary, with disastrous consequences. The Polish army was badly outnumbered, and the crown stopped paying wages leading to massive desertions. Casimir returned home at age 15 in defeat, which his father blamed entirely on him and locked him up for three months in his rage. Casimir vowed to never again become involved in war or politics and, while in confinement, decided to remain celibate and devote himself to a life of prayer.

His father eventually released him, and Casimir reigned briefly as king before dying at age 25 of tuberculosis in Lithuania. Casimir is the patron saint of Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. After his death, St. Casimir miraculously appeared to the Lithuanian army during the Siege of Polotsk in 1518 and showed them where they could safely cross the river, eventually resulting in a Lithuanian victory over the Russians.

In 1984, on the 500th anniversary of St. Casimir's death, Pope St. John Paul II addressed Lithuanian pilgrims, reminding them that the Church “proclaimed Casimir a saint and placed him before us not only to be venerated but also that we might imitate his heroic virtues and follow his example of holiness.” The Pope encouraged young people especially to follow in St. Casimir footsteps, noting “His life of purity and prayer beckons you to practice your faith with courage and zeal, to reject the deceptive attractions of modern permissive society, and to live your convictions with fearless confidence and joy.”

Today, pray for all young people through the intercession of St. Casimir, that they may be emboldened in their faith in a world that rejects all that we stand for. For dinner, enjoy a traditional Polish meal of pierogi or Golabki.

March 7 – Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity are late 2nd century Christian martyrs who lived in an African province of the Roman Empire. What we know of these two women comes from St. Pereptua's diary, written in 203 while in jail for her faith. Her diary was finished by a fellow prisoner who witnessed the women's eventual martyrdoms.

In her diary, St. Perpetua records that she was a 22-year old, married noble woman and the nursing mother of a young son. Saint Felicity was her servant, was also married, and was 8 months pregnant. The women were unbaptized catechumens preparing to be received into the Church when they were arrested along with six other Christians. They refused to recant their faith, professing their Christianity publicly before the Roman governor and were sentenced to death by being thrown to the wild beasts in the games at the stadium in Carthage.

Felicity gave birth a few days before the event, and both children were given over to the care of family members. Before her death, Perpetua's diary records that "[s]he likewise pinned up her disheveled hair; for it was not meet that a martyr should suffer with hair disheveled, lest she should seem to grieve in her glory."

You can actually read the entirety of St. Perpetua's diary in English online here. The Saints and Sages Podcast also has a Part 1 and Part 2 about Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity that is well worth the listen! Celebrate today with fancy hairdos for the girls in your family. For dinner, enjoy a Berber-style meal that is both a nod to the ethnicity of Perpetua and Felicity and appropriate for Lent: vegetable and chickpea tagine with cous cous!

March 8 – St. John of God

John of God, born Joao Duate Cidade in Portugal in 1495, ran away from home at age 8 after hearing the exhortations of a priest to serve God. He went on to become a shepherd, a solider, and a bookseller before hearing a sermon by St. John of Avila (a doctor of the Church). After this sermon, he rushed back to his bookshop, sold all of his goods, and donated all his wealth to the poor. He eventually was thrown into an insane asylum, which caused him to develop a deep love for those suffering from mental illness. He eventually founded the Brothers Hospitallers in 1572, an order that remains active even today in 51 countries providing a wide range of health care and social services to the poor! St. John of God is now the patron saint of printers, booksellers, firefighters, heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, alcoholics, and the dying.

St. John of God is frequently depicted in art with a pomegranate, which symbolizes self giving since the fruit opens itself to scatter its seeds. It is associated with St. John of God not only because of his heroic self-giving, but because he worked in Granada, Spain, which is Spanish for pomegranate!

If you are able, you can donate to the Brothers Hospitallers here. Pray the Litany of St. John of God today especially for all those suffering from mental illness. For a snack, enjoy a pomegranate while listening to Episode 9 of the Saint Stories for Kids Podcast!

March 9 – St. Frances of Rome

Saint Frances of Rome, born Francesca Bussi de Leoni, was born to a noble family in Rome in 1384. From an early age, Francesca longed to be a nun, but it was not meant to be. As a teenager, Francesca's father forced her to marry a rich young man who, although Catholic, was less than devout.

She found solace, however, in her sister-in-law, Vannozza, who had also longed to enter the religious life. Together, they began to do whatever they could, as their vocations as wife and mother allowed, to help the poor. In fact, St. Frances of Rome is the patron saint of this blog, and she is quoted as saying "It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife. And sometimes she must leave God at the altar to find Him in her housekeeping.”

Over time, Francesca's beliefs rubbed off on her new family. By the age of 20, she had borne three children, and her entire household, including her husband, became incredibly devout, allowing Francesca to live a modified version of the contemplative life she had always dreamed of. She eventually convinced other young and wealthy widows to enter the Congregation of Devotees of Mary, a society not bound by vows but under the direction of the Benedictines, which she founded in 1425 to better serve the poor. Frances herself, however, was not able to join until after her husband died in 1436. In the meantime, Frances opened up large sections of her home to serve as a hospital for the poor and sold many of her priceless possessions to pay for food and clothing for those less fortunate.

Things were not easy for Francesca, however. During her lifetime, Francesca experienced a terrible plague that ravaged the city of Rome, a political revolt that sent her husband into exile, and the death of her two youngest children. She is often depicted with her guardian angel by her side and broken arrows in her hand, symbolizing her intercessory power over plagues. During the height of the plague, Francesca used her funds to pay priests extra to administer the sacraments to the poor, whom many avoided for fear of succumbing to the plague. She died on March 9, 1440, just four years after entering her Congregation. She is now the patron saint of motorists and homemakers.

Homemaking is, sadly, becoming a lost art. Today, celebrate St. Frances of Rome by finding God in your housekeeping! Pray a rosary while cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, and have the whole family pitch in! It is never too early to start teaching basic homemaking skills to your children. Children as young as 2, for instance, are capable of putting their clothes away and helping load the dishwasher (albeit imperfectly!), and older children, varying by age but by high school at the very latest, should know how to do their own laundry, cook basic meals (scrambled eggs, for example), follow simple recipes, sew a button, and be able to work within and create a budget. Today is the perfect day to help your children develop some of these skills.

Other fun activities include doing any kind of homey activities, like bread making or making your own butter. For a craft, check out these sweet felt button flowers from Rooted Childhood - perfect for helping children not only learn to sew a button but also engage so many of those very necessary hand strengthening and coordination skills!

Finally, text or call up your own mother or any other homemakers you know today and thank them for and remind them of the beauty and importance of their work. They are so underappreciated by society, if not outright condemned. There is simply no more important work than the work of the home, however, and these countercultural women are part of the foundation of all that will be true, good, and beautiful in the generations to come.

March 14 – Laetare Sunday (4th Sunday of Lent) and St. Matilda

Laetare Sunday

Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, gets its name from the Entrance Antiphon and Psalm response for the day: Laetare Hierusalem et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam; gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis, ut exsultetis et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae (Rejoice ye with Jerusalem; and be ye glad for her, all ye that delight in her: exult and sing for joy with her, all ye that in sadness mourn for her; that ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations); Psalm: Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus (I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord).

It is a day of rejoicing, a mini-reprieve from the solemnity of the season, similar to Gaudete Sunday during Advent. Like Gaudete Sunday, the liturgical color for the day is rose! To celebrate, we like to wear pink to Mass and eat and drink pink things today (for example, pink lemonade and strawberry cakes with pink icing). Today is also known as Mothering Sunday, Refreshment Sunday, Rose Sunday, or the Sunday of the Five Loaves (from the Gospel reading for today about the miracle of the five loaves and fishes).

St. Matilda

St. Matilda was born into a royal family in 895 in Westphalia, part of modern-day Germany and was raised by her grandmother, Maud, the abbess of a convent in Thuringia. She married Heinrich I, who became king of Westphalia in 919, and bore five children, one of whom was Otto the Great, founder of the Holy Roman Empire. Matilda was the epitome of the benevolent queen, spending much of her time caring for the sickest and poorest of her subjects.

When Heinrich died after 17 years of marriage, Matilda was heartbroken. Her despair only increased as two of her sons, Heinrich II and Otto, vied for the throne. Matilda was caught in the middle, and despite her peacemaking efforts, both her sons became estranged from her, accusing her of depleting the royal treasury with her incessant giving to those in need. Happily, after a time, Matilda and her sons reconciled, and Matilda went on to construct numerous churches and monasteries throughout the kingdom. Matilda is now the patron saint of large families and parents who are in conflict with their children.

Today, pray through the intercession of St. Matilda for those families who are suffering from any kind of estrangement or are hurt by other family members, particularly children, who have left the faith. For dinner, serve a traditional Bavarian dish, such as Blätterteig Sonnige Eier (Puff Pastry Sunny Eggs), German Brötchen (a rustic loaf), or Bayerische Semmelknoedel (Bavarian dumplings). You can find these recipes and learn more about St. Matilda, including seeing pictures of the chapel where St. Matilda's remains rest, here.

March 17 – St. Patrick

St. Patrick is probably one of the most famous Catholic saints and is well-known as the patron saint of Ireland, despite not actually being Irish! While his country of origin is disputed, Patrick was probably Scottish, Gallic, or Frankish. Patrick's Irish connection arose when he was kidnapped by Irish pirates as a boy and forced to work as a slave on the Emerald Isle, which at the time was almost entirely pagan.

Patrick spent six years as a slave, but found solace despite his hardships by devoting himself to an interior life of prayer and meditation (Patrick was raised Catholic, in fact, his grandfather was a deacon). One night, he dreamed a ship awaited him to carry him to safety. He realized the dream was of divine origins, so in confidence he made his escape, traveling over 200 miles to a ship that was, in fact, waiting to carry him to safety!

At home once more, Patrick had yet another dream, this time of the people of Ireland calling him back to them. St. Patrick wrote of the dream, "And thus did they cry out as with one mouth: 'We ask you, boy, come and walk among us once more.'" In response, Patrick became a priest and quickly confirmed as a bishop before setting off to bring the Gospel to the Irish people.

Patrick experienced extraordinary success in his evangelization efforts, baptizing thousands and establishing numerous religious communities. Many legends abound of his teachings, including that he taught the Irish about the Trinity using a three-leaf clover and that he banished snakes from the island using his bishop's crozier.

Celebrate today by wearing green and enjoying a traditional St. Patrick's Day meal like corned beef, washed down with beer or whiskey, of course, for the of-age crowd. Listen to Episode 10 of the Saint Stories for Kids Podcast for a story about St. Patrick, and pray the traditional St. Patrick's Breastplate prayer! Today is also a great day to talk to your children about the Trinity. While any analogy falls short of accurately representing the Trinity, the clover leaf is a great place to start (and I love this sweet and simple craft from Christianity Cove).

March 18 – St. Cyril of Jerusalem

St. Cyril of Jerusalem is a Doctor of the Church who lived in Jerusalem in the 4th century and was one of the many saints who battled the heresy of Arianism throughout the ages, which denies the divinity of Christ. At one point, Cyril himself was accused of the heresy by St. Jerome, but was eventually absolved.

As a newly ordained priest, St. Cyril was given the job of preparing Catechumens for baptism, making him an especially appropriate saint for the Lenten season when Catechumens continue to prepare for entry into the Church. He eventually became Bishop of Jerusalem and was present at the Council of Constantinople when the Nicene Creed was formulated in 381.

Today, prayerfully and intentionally recite the Nicene Creed, and pray through the intercession of St. Cyril for all those preparing for entry into the Church at the Easter Vigil. For dinner, enjoy hummus, falafel, or schnitzel!

March 21 – Passion Sunday (5th Sunday of Lent)

Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday? Today, the term Passion Sunday is not typically used, and instead the focus has shifted to Palm Sunday the following week. Traditionally, however, the fifth Sunday of Lent was celebrated as Passion Sunday. It marks the shift in the Lenten season away from Jesus' preparation in the desert to his quickly approaching suffering and death on the cross. It is a great time to really lean into and deepen whatever Lenten obligations you have undertaken for the rest of the season (or recommit to them if you have let them slide).

The traditional Gospel reading for Passion Sunday is John 8:46-59, which concludes with the following: "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.' So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple." From this, the practice of veiling statues, crucifixes, and religious icons arose. It is a tradition that is easy enough to replicate in your own home: simply purchase some purple cloth and cover the religious statues, crucifixes, and art throughout your home. It is a beautiful and powerful reminder as we head into the last two weeks of this somber season.

March 19 - St. Joseph

Today we officially celebrate St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin, the patron of the Universal Church, fathers, workers, and a happy death. You can read more about St. Joseph here. To celebrate, read Pope Francis' Apostolic Letter Patris Corde and the Biblical account of St. Joseph in Mattew 1:18-23, or meditate on the seven sorrows and seven joys of St. Joseph as a family. You can also do any of the activities suggested above in the "All Month Long" section today!

In south Louisiana, the traditional way to celebrate St. Joseph is with a St. Joseph Altar! A St. Joseph Altar consists of a three level table (I usually stack three different sized cake stands on top of each other) filled with candles, flowers, breads baked in liturgical shapes (think St. Joseph's staff) and other baked goods (like the traditional almond cookie or cream puff), and dusted with a fine layer of bread crumbs (to resemble the sawdust from St. Joseph's workshop). Traditionally, on the eve of St. Joseph's Feast Day families would visit the homes of their friends and other family members to see their altars, with the goal of attending seven different altars as a form of penance and then eat the altar samplings on the Feast Day itself. You can read more about special Louisiana devotions to St. Joseph here.

For dinner, as inspired by Kendra Tierney from Catholic All Year, I like to make pasta sprinkled with plenty of parmesan (for sawdust!) that I let the children eat with their hands as a reminder that St. Joseph was a carpenter who worked with his hands. The children love it and look forward to it all year! Pray the Litany of St. Joseph together to finish off your celebrations.

March 23 – St. Turibius of Mogrovejo

St. Turibius, along with St. Rose of Lima, is one of the first saints of the New World! Born in Spain in 1538, St. Turibius studied to become a lawyer at the University of Salamanca. He was a gifted scholar, eventually becoming a professor of law and chief judge at the Inquisition in Granada. Eventually, he was ordained a priest and confirmed as a bishop, being sent to Peru where he was horrified by the oppression caused by colonialism there.

St. Turibius devoted himself to rooting out clerical abuses in Peru and serving the poor, often helping them anonymously to protect their dignity. He went to daily confession (a wonderful example for all of us, especially during Lent!), prayed the rosary daily and the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and celebrated mass with great fervor throughout the large diocese, confirming the future St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres! He was helped in his missionary work by St. Francis Solanus. St. Turibius is now the patron saint of Peru, Latin American Bishops, and native rights.

Today, celebrate St. Turibius by praying through his intercession for all bishops, and particularly those in Latin America. If you have never prayed the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary before, today is a wonderful day to try it! Since it is also Lent, today is a great day to try to make it to confession, asking Our Lady and St. Turibius to help reveal to you those sins you need to confess. For dinner, serve a traditional Peruvian dish (I LOVE ceviche but if raw fish isn't your thing, try this creole style dish, Lomo Saltado).

March 24 – St. Catherine of Sweden

St. Catherine of Sweden was the fourth child of another saint, St. Bridget of Sweden. At age 14, Catherine's father forced her to marry a German nobleman, despite Catherine's taking a vow of chastity. Blessedly, Catherine was able to persuade her husband to join her in her vow of chastity, and together, the husband and wife devoted themselves to a life of prayer and charity.

When her husband died, Catherine accompanied her mother to Rome and refused to remarry. She is often depicted in art with a deer by her side, which, according to legend, would accompany her and protect her whenever "unchaste youths sought to ensnare her." She eventually became the head of the Brigittines, the order founded by her mother, following St. Bridget's death. St. Catherine is now frequently invoked by those who have experienced a miscarriage.

Did you know that the Brigittines have a special six-decade rosary? It is sometimes called the Brigittine Crown, and when St. Teresa of Avila learned of it, she adopted a six-decade Carmelite Rosary for her reformed order of Discalced Carmelites. I learned of it when my husband purchased an antique rosary from the 1800s from France for me a few years ago for Christmas. He was not Catholic at the time, and when I opened the gift, I thought it was defective because it had an extra decade. I learned later that it was likely a six-decade Carmelite Rosary, which is extra special to me as this was all before I knew anything about or was drawn to Carmelite spirituality!

Today, pray the Brigittine Rosary for all those who have suffered the loss of miscarriage. For dinner, serve a simple Lenten supper with a Swedish flair of salmon (Gravlax!) with cold boiled potatoes seasoned with dill.

March 25 – The Annunciation

Only nine months until Christmas! The Feast of the Annunciation was one of the first liturgical living celebrations I ever engaged in, and it has become one my children look forward to all year.

On the Annunciation, we celebrate the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to the

Blessed Virgin Mary. Gabriel hails Mary as "full of grace," and announces that she has found favor with the Most High. If she consents, the Holy Spirit will overshadow her, and she will bear the Son of God, who shall be named Jesus. Mary gives her fiat, saying "Be it done unto me according to thy word," and she conceives the Word Made Flesh.

What makes this particular feast so memorable to my children is a tradition Catholic speaker and writer Kendra Tierney shares in her liturgical living book, Catholic All Year. Traditionally, the Annunciation was also called "Lady Day." In Swedish, this is Vårfrudagen, which is extremely similar in spelling to (and apparently in some Swedish dialects sounds like) Våffeldagen, which means “Waffle Day.” As such, Swedes have been eating waffles to celebrate the Annunciation for centuries, and it's a tradition we have now taken up in our home!

Since the Annunciation was also the first gender reveal party in a way, we make the waffles extra special by adding blue food coloring to the batter. I also get blue "It's A Boy!" balloons to celebrate because the children love playing with them, but this has resulted every single year in someone thinking I'm making a pregnancy announcement, so proceed with caution.

If waffles and gender reveals aren't your thing, celebrate today by reading the account of the Annunciation in Luke 1:26-38 and praying the Angelus, a prayer that is traditionally said at 6 am, 12 noon, and 6 pm by Catholics worldwide daily. You can also pray the first Joyful Mystery of the Rosary as a family and meditate on this miraculous event!

Finally, today is also the perfect day to watch the third installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (bear with me here). Traditionally, Christians considered March 25 to be the date on which God created man, the date on which Adam and Eve committed the first sin, the date on which Mary reversed Eve's "no" to God with her fiat, and the date on which Christ was crucified (as attested to by the sixth-century document Martyrologium Hieronymianum). The Annunciation, in fact, used to be celebrated on Good Friday, the date we remember Christ's crucifixion, until the revision of the Liturgical Calendar in 1969. As such, when J.R.R. Tolkien, a devout Catholic, was picking a date for Frodo Baggins to destroy evil by tossing the ring into the fiery chasm of Mount Doom, March 25 made perfect sense.

March 28 – Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the sixth and final Sunday of Lent, and the Gospel reading for the day tells of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. For me it has always been an uncomfortable Sunday, as it reminds us how quickly we, as humans, turn on the God who loves us. On Sunday, we celebrate Him as a king, but by Friday we crucify Him. This weakness is reinforced in the Mass readings for today, where the entire congregation cries out, "Crucify Him!" It's a solemn reminder that my own sin is what Jesus died for, and that every time I choose against Him, I cry, yet again, "Crucify Him!" in my own heart.

In memory of the people who laid down palms before Jesus as he rode through the city on a donkey, blessed palms are available and used during the Mass. Because the palms have been blessed, they are sacramentals and must be buried or burned if you take them home. In my family, we like to fold them into palm crosses and keep them in a jar on one of our home altars. At the beginning of the following year's Lent, we burn them and scatter the ashes in our garden. The liturgical color for the day is red, so we also like to wear red to Mass. You can also serve a heart of palm salad at Sunday lunch or dinner!

In days of old, catechumens preparing to be received into the Church at the Easter Vigil were taught the Lord's Prayer on Palm Sunday. The Our Father is a prayer we say so often that it easy to fall into rote recitation, so today, pray for the catechumens in your own parish and throughout the Church by slowly and intentionally praying the Our Father for them.

March 29 and 30 – Beginning of Holy Week

On Holy Monday the Mass readings recall the anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus (whom Jesus raised from the dead). We learn that Judas Iscariot decries the "waste" of this expensive perfume in an act of holy worship. Other events associated with Holy Monday include Jesus' cursing the fig tree and the tossing of the money changers out of the Temple (Mark 11:12-25) . On Holy Tuesday, the daily Mass readings recount Jesus' prediction of his betrayal and crucifixion (John 13:21-38).

On these days, I like to undertake my quarterly deep cleaning checklist where I get to all the cleaning I don't normally do every week (like washing windows, baseboards, rotating mattresses, moving the furniture to clean under it, etc.). You can find my checklist on my saved story highlights entitled "Homemaking" on my Instagram homepage, here.

March 31 – Spy Wednesday

The Mass readings for the previous two days have highlighted the coming betrayal of Jesus by Judas, and today, traditionally known as Spy Wednesday, Judas makes his move, selling Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16; Luke 22:3-6). There are a few interpretations of the significance of the 30 pieces of silver. Some claim, based on Mosaic law found in Exodus, that it was the average price of a slave. Still other's surmise that it was the equivalent of about a tenth (or a tithe) of the cost of the perfume Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus with earlier. Finally, others postulate that it was considered a trifling or meaningless amount, signifying the little worth either Judas or the Temple priests considered Jesus to be.

Each of these conjectures leads to some compelling reflections. Judas was a disciple of Jesus, one of the twelve. He spent three years walking, talking, living with Jesus and learning at his feet, only to betray Him to His death. If the 30 pieces of silver was a trifling amount, why did he do it? Why accept so little? Was it because he had come to hate Jesus, or was it because he was trying to force Jesus' hand, to cause Jesus to usher in the martial-like Messianic age where the oppressive Romans would finally be overthrown that many Jews at the time were looking for?

In the end, the "why" of Judas doesn't really matter. Each of us is capable of kissing the face of Jesus, only to fall away when it matters, just like Judas. What matters is the "why" in each of our own lives. Why do we continue to betray Jesus? What are our reasons for falling into the same sinful habits over and over again? How are we justifying our failures? When we identify the root of our sins, be it pride, vanity, or sensuality, we can then ask the Holy Spirit to come in and heal that brokenness and give us the grace we need to move past it. Identifying the root also helps us to tailor our spiritual practices to overcoming that sin more effectively and gives us something concrete to focus on in our nightly examens.

Today, we like to introduce the readings with an activity, where we hide 30 quarters and have the children search for them. You can also make tiny silver dollar pancakes for dinner. Then we read the story of Judas' betrayal in the Gospel for 30 pieces of silver and talk about it as a family. We contrast Judas' betrayal with that of Peter's (Matthew 22:60-62). Judas hanged himself after his betrayal, ultimately despairing of God's grace and mercy (Matthew 27:5). Peter, on the other hand waited and was ultimately able to avail himself of God's forgiveness (John 21:15-17). The difference in the two is humility, and it makes all the eternal difference in the world. The next day, we take our quarters to the Church and put them in the poor box.

Finally, an ancient tradition for today is known as Tenebrae (Latin for darkness or shadows). At Mass, the candles are slowly extinguished until the Church is dark, and then a loud clash occurs (symbolizing the earthquake that occurred the moment Jesus died). You can recreate this at home by ending dinner with candles that you blow out one by one. When the last candle is blown out, have the family make a large crashing sound by slamming your hands onto the table. With that, Lent is over, and the Triduum begins!

The Triduum, beginning with Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday, is the start of the shortest liturgical season of the year. It is comprised of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Make sure you subscribe below so you don't miss the Liturgical Living for Busy Families in April post, where I'll have ideas for celebrating the Triduum, the Easter season, and the major feast days in April!

Have a blessed remainder of your Lent, friends!


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