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Prayers for the Days of Holy Week

Morning Prayer for Holy Monday

God whose word cannot be broken:
with Jerusalem we are stunned this Holy Week.
Like a city overcome with sudden devastation,
we are swept up in the confusion and desolation,
wondering what is happening.

Liturgy, Scripture, and song immerse us in the river that flows to betrayal and the cross.
The gospel we have tried to make manageable has overturned our tables of control.
The sufferings of Jesus that we try to avoid engulf us.
The fruitless fig tree withers
before the majesty of one whose mission is relentless and uncompromised.
Help us with all of your church to watch and pray,
to behold anew the unfolding scandal
and the ragged good news of salvation.
Behold with mercy the agonies of the world
where the suffering of Jesus is being completed, both then and now.
Let the Via Dolorosa for us be both acts of devotion and worship
and of compassion and justice,
so that Christ's abundant sufferings become the world's abundant consolations.

Silent prayer and listening

Copyright © 2002 Order of Saint Luke Publications. This prayer, written by Dan Benedict, is from The Daily Office: A Book of Hours for Daily Prayer (Volume II: For Lent and the Triduum). Used with permission of the publisher.

Morning Prayer for Holy Tuesday

Reading: Mark 11:15-19

How many Sundays have we sung, "... as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end"?

At the beginning, Jesus, your parents offered doves bought in the temple as a sign of their devotion and they dedicated you to God. It was their prayer.
Now doves are the signal of trafficking in holy things for selfish gain.
Faith is turned into a business.
Devotion becomes the occasion for prostitution
and the temple has become a spiritual brothel.
Is it because you have become an adult — the anointed One
with God in your eyes and you shine like the light in God's house?

You say, "My house."
You say, "My house shall be."
You say, "My house shall be called."
You say, "My house shall be called a house of prayer."
You say, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations."
You say, "but you ... but you have made it a den of robbers."

The "but" speaks truth leading to doom.
And you say it anyway.
Like some fierce force of reckoning the confrontation comes.
Like some strange mercy,
you upset our grotesque compromise with self,
our easy complicity with turning the holy to whoring,
our complacency about marketing the means of grace.

Do the doves go free on this day when you become the target of the lynch mob? What does it mean for us to follow you, today?

Let your courage and honesty live in us this Holy Tuesday.
Let your passion for the heart of prayer stir in us this Holy Tuesday.
Let your yearning for the prayer of all nations
move us beyond our narrow nationalisms
of me and mine,
of cashing in on others poverty and misery,
of ...

Let your will to cleanse away the merchandizing of salvation
leave in us only
a simple silence,
a centered stillness,
an eternal moment of peace.
Live in your temple, Jesus, this Holy Tuesday
and let the doves go free.

Live in a time of silence, even if only for a minute.

Morning/Evening Prayer for Holy Wednesday

Reading: Matthew 26:1-5, 14-25

In the synoptic gospels Jesus is portrayed as being more human, more subject to the vicissitudes of human experience than the Jesus told by John's gospel. Yet his perception and anticipation of what is ahead of him seems to be strikingly keen in the synoptics.

He knows and tells the disciples

  • that with the coming of Passover he will be crucified,
  • that the woman's act of anointing his feet is preparation for his burial,
  • that a certain man will allow his house to be the dining room for Jesus and his disciples to eat the Passover meal,
  • that one of his disciples will betray him.

He even knows somehow that it was the one who had just at the moment dipped his bread in the bowl of sop and that fickle as the rest were they would simply chicken out when the pressure was on.

Morning has come again, Teacher Jesus,
and it is Holy Wednesday,
the 39th day of Lent in our reckoning.
But what time is it really? That is the trick.
How did you know?
How did you know so much?
Was it prescience?
Were you following a script written for you
that you simply played out in dogged obedience?
Was it a keen sense of the way things were lined up
and seeing the dots you connected them
like a gifted child who know her numbers in a something-to-do-book?
Who was the "certain man" in the city
who would know the code words
"The Teacher says my time has come"?
Are we the certain man, the certain woman?
Are we the ones whose names are unknown but to you?
Are we the ones your emissaries approach this Holy Wednesday, saying,
"The Teacher says, My time is near...
I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples."
Is that where we come into the story?
Just out of sight ...
Not named ...
Seemingly hidden,
but still essential to the drama unfolding?
Still stewards of a place,
an interior space
where the Passover Haggadah can again be passionately told?
Where food can be shared in the context of sacred story?
Where God's deliverance of an oppressed people
can again be rehearsed in the present moment?
Where the impending cross
will be interpreted not as a miscarriage of justice,
but as love's self-giving?
And bleeding out is named
as the making of a covenant of forgiveness and the promise of eating together again?
Where do we come into today's gospel drama, Teacher?
If we have something you need,
will we offer it when the stranger approaches?
If we have a space that can be turned to sacred use,
will we welcome the request
without signing papers to protect our interests?
If your time is near today, will we be able to be found
in the city,
in the workplace,
among the family,
in the crowd,
in the silence?
Will we be available to love you and welcome you
as your story is told anew this Holy Week?
Will we stand just out of view,
unnamed and unknown except to you,
and do our part today?
Who or what will get our attention?
The calendar that calls today Holy Wednesday?
A phone call or an email from someone hurting?
A news story about Red Lake or Darfur?
A prompting to just stop and enter the silence?
What or who will get our attention today?

Keep a time of silence just to rest in attentiveness.

Copyright © 2005 Discipleship Ministries. Written by Daniel Benedict.

Morning Prayer for Holy Thursday
Reading: Mark 14:12-23

At sunset on this Holy Thursday, the church begins the great three days. In Latin this time is called the Triduum. Beginning with the Lord's Supper tonight and in a continuing vigil through Good Friday and Holy Saturday, we rehearse the great story of our redemption. For this reason we end each service in silent departure, since the liturgy does not so much end as it breaks for a while and then continues through the Easter Vigil service that begins at sunset on Saturday.

Our Passover, Son of God's passion, Story Weaver:
On this day you directed two disciples to follow a man carrying a water jar
and so to know where to eat the Exodus meal.
We bless you that Lent’s journey now brings us to the waters of baptism
and to the Paschal Mystery.
Gather us together
for story, footwashing, and Eucharist
so that we may proclaim anew your saving deeds,
your cross-shaped glory.

In these three days enfold your church
in the central story of your passion:
the arrest, "trial," crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection.
Birth new disciples in the rites of initiation
and let us be awestruck at the wonder of our shared dying and rising with Christ.
Reconcile penitents with towel and basin,
and mutual forgiveness for hurt we have caused one another.
Draw seekers to observe and be amazed
at these dramatic acts of your extravagant grace.
In all our ritualizing and reflection,
remember the suffering ones among us
and touch them with our hands in your name.

A time of silence, resting in the stillness and attentive to what the Spirit brings to awareness.

Copyright © 2002 Order of Saint Luke Publications. Adapted and used with permission.

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