- Faith and Worship
- How Do I...
Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: March 19, 2015
By Betsy Wiederkehr Huss
Blessed Sacrament Church, Jonesboro
Did you know that spring cleaning practices go way back in our faith tradition and are associated with Holy Week activities?
There are rituals, recipes and prayers associated with the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week. With the first day of spring upon us and Holy Week just around the corner, spring cleaning isn’t far behind.
This custom of spring cleaning to prepare the home for the greatest feast of the year is rooted in the Old Testament preparation for Passover (the Israelites’ freedom from slavery and their exodus from Egypt), where no leaven was to be found in their homes.
This custom of spring cleaning is rooted in the Old Testament preparation for Passover, where no leaven was to be found in their homes. ... Ancient Catholic tradition, in many countries, dedicates the first three days after Palm Sunday to a hearty and comprehensive house cleaning in preparation for the eminent Easter celebration.
The ancient Jewish ritual of cleaning, sweeping and decorating the whole house was and is in preparation for this feast. Ancient Catholic tradition, in many countries, dedicates the first three days after Palm Sunday to a hearty and comprehensive house cleaning in preparation for the eminent Easter celebration.
Scrubbing, dusting, window washing, beating of carpets, airing out and beating mattresses and furniture, washing curtains and more are all duties performed to ready the house.
But, this time is not just for preparing the house. During the last few days of Lent through the whole family’s external cleaning activities, one hopes personal internal preparation occurs as well.
The housecleaning “is an outward sign of the inner newness of the soul of the family,” writes Father Bernard Stokes, OFM, in his book, “How to Make Your House a Home.” Or ponder Florence Berger’s comment in “Cooking for Christ” on this subject, “… the cleaning of your house as a symbol of your soul’s Lenten renewal.”
You may be thinking, “I remember doing that.” Or, thinking this is a bit obsolete, old-fashioned or not relevant today. We do not beat our rugs outside anymore; we use vacuum cleaners inside our air-conditioned living spaces.
Yes, our daily lives have changed from ancient ways, from life in the 1950s, and the early 21st century even. But does that mean a good “housecleaning” is not in order for our lives especially during Holy Week?
What clutter do we still need to get rid of in our lives? On our computers or web pages? On our DVRs, tablets or phones? What areas need an airing out? Would our areas of stale, stagnant faith benefit from fresh breaths upon us from God’s Spirit? Or his Word?
Or time spent in quiet praying and listening or thanksgiving? Where do we need to start some deep cleaning that takes real elbow grease? What do we need to confess and truly try not to sin in this way anymore? Looking outside ourselves, who can we help or where can we volunteer or share our talents and gifts with others that would benefit the Body of Christ? That would help with its healing of brokenness?
Psalm 22, a view of Christ suffering for us on the Cross, can be prayed in sections during the first days of Holy Week as follows: Monday, verses 1-12; Tuesday, verses 13-22; and Wednesday, verses 23-32. Remember, Easter joy is imminent, about to happen. Easter joy is eminent, superior and easy to notice.
Holy Week is to be different than any other week of the year. How will you and I chose to live this year’s Holy Week differently than the other 51 weeks of the year? Will our Easter joy be eminent throughout the whole year? With God’s grace, it will!