Holy week starts on Palm Sunday. In an ideal celebration, you would start outside the Church and begin with the first Gospel, blessing of palms, and procession into the Church with Palm. Later during Mass, we would hear the second Gospel for the day, the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These two experiences give us the opportunity to make a spiritual pilgrimage; with the procession, we become participants in Palm Sunday and taking on the voice of the crowd, we walk with Christ to the hill of Golgotha.
The next destination of our spiritual pilgrimage is the Upper Room, a place where Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples and instituted the Holy Eucharist during the Last Supper.
Our liturgical actions of this Mass (Holy Thursday) take us into that scene. Where the priest washes the feet of 12 parish disciples and solemnly prays the Eucharistic Prayer, typically on this night the Roman Canon, with the special clause, “On this night” will be sang during the words of consecration.
The liturgy of the Holy Thursday is a pilgrimage to the Upper Room, and a foreshadowing of Calvary. The Holy Mass is Calvary. Therefore, every Mass is a spiritual pilgrimage to Calvary.
During the conclusion of the Holy Thursday liturgy, the priest would process with the Blessed Sacrament to an altar of repose.
Therefore, this part of our spiritual pilgrimage leads us into the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spends His time in prayer to the Father.
We would be there with the disciples, but unlike them, we would strive to be attentive and alert, to watch and pray with our Lord before his betrayal and arrest.
On Good Friday, our spiritual pilgrimage presents us to Calvary, and hearing the words of Jesus as he dies on the cross. So, with Joseph of Arimathea we go to the tomb, praying and waiting until the angelic announcement that Christ is risen from the dead.
However, Easter Sunday takes us on pilgrimage to the empty tomb. Where we run with Peter and John; we weep with Mary Magdalene and we walk with the disciples on the way to Emmaus.
Besides our liturgical spiritual pilgrimage, the devotional practices of the Church, especially each Friday we walk the Stations of the Cross, it enables us to walk with Jesus on the way to Calvary.
For every time we pray the Stations, it is a spiritual pilgrimage. For those who are unable to ever visit the Holy Land, they can still participate in the Via Dolorosa.
Whether you’ve prayed during the Holy Week liturgies or not. This year, try to experience Holy Week in a new way.
Make the Holy Week a spiritual pilgrimage. Pause and imagine yourself at the points of Christ’s passion and participate with Christ. Always pray and walk alongside Jesus. Adhere to his voice. Be a witness to His resurrection. Let your spiritual pilgrimage transform your experience of the Holy Week.