Praying through Holy Week in a Pandemic

Here we are. It’s Holy Week. In the middle of a pandemic.

We are being braced for increasingly difficult and heartbreaking weeks ahead.

May I offer a prayer practice?

The week before life in Minnesota shut down for the virus, I spent my Tuesday night at a class for directing the Extended Ignatian Exercises. Participants in this retreat slowly make their way through the stories of Jesus using imaginative prayer. We use our imaginations to enter into the story. We invite the Spirit to open our hearts to Christ and his story and to how our stories intersect.

That evening, our teacher took us through the portion of the retreat that focuses on Jesus’ Passion. When we come to the Passion of Christ, we seek to be with Jesus during his suffering, not just watch his suffering as a bystander.

As we prepared to enter into these stories, our teacher invited us to ask the question: How did Jesus get through it?

“If you can get in touch with how Jesus got through his suffering, you can get through anything…. If you know you are unconditionally loved while in the middle of every kind of hurt or suffering, you can get through anything.”

He encouraged us: “Notice how Jesus continues to love throughout the passion. Notice how he was loved by God. And then, when you find yourself suffering, can you stay in a place of love? How can you grow rather than be broken by suffering?”

I’d like to invite you to take these questions with you and spend some time with Jesus’ story this week.

Take one small scene at a time.

For example, Monday: Pray with Jesus in the Garden; Matthew 26:36-46.

                        Tuesday: Pray with Jesus on trial; Matthew 26:57-75.

                        Wednesday: Jesus being crowned with thorns; Matthew 27:26-31

                        Thursday: Jesus on the way to crucifixion; Luke 23:26-31

                        Friday: Jesus on the cross; Luke 23:32-46

Ask God to show you how Jesus made it through each moment. Maybe there’s more to the story than what is written. Let your imagination and heart take you there.

/ / /

For me, the timing of this class and the week of prayer that followed was grace. I needed this new-to-me way of looking at Jesus’ suffering and death. And the prayer and images that grew out of it are powerful. They are grounding me and helping me pray during this time of global suffering.

I’ll share a bit of what emerged for me at another time. Instead of focusing on what I got out of the practice, I’d love to invite you to try it and experience it for yourself. I’d love to hear about what you experience.

p.s.

How can I support you in this time?

  • I love words and sharing words. And one of the ways I love my friends is by sharing words with them. If you would like to be included and receive emails with poems, blessings or other good words to remind you that you are not alone in this time, sign up here. I’d love to send them to you.
  • Listening to those who are wrestling with questions about God and meaning and soul, this is my passion. If you are interested in spiritual direction via telephone right now or if you know someone who might be, let me know. I’m happy to offer a listening and prayerful ear. Or if you prefer writing, just drop a note. I’ll write you back.

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