Whole Parenting Family

Why We Go Inside Ourselves and What Passion Week Is About

SweetPea & copper bowl

How loving are you all! Your response to my sharing about the dark times within was so truly, well, loving and light bringing! Thank you from the bottom of my pitty-pattering heart. Your insights, openness about your own dark times, and love keep me wanting to write this blog.

After further examination as to why it’s so dark in here, I wanted to share a little about why we all do go inside the dark parts of ourselves, and how that relates to this week. In the world of Christianity, this is a big week. It’s called Passion Week. It’s the week leading up to Good Friday (saddest/happiest day of the year), Holy Saturday (hold your breath and wait for it while He’s rocking the Shroud of Tourin in the tomb), and tah-dah Easter Sunday when Christ kicks down the doors of death and flings open the gates of Heaven.

My very simple, non-theologian mind has focused on the internal this Lenten season. I’ve tried to air out all my faults, failings, bad habits, bad parenting styles, poor partnering incidentals, negative sibling interactivities, slacking daughterisms, failed friendings. I really wanted to feel like I had done my part on the journey of Lent, that I had strove (striven? strived?) to be a better person. Somehow along this way I let the Devil get me down. Instead of viewing my human failings as ways to improve and be a bigger vessel for God’s love, I turned all that darkness into other darkness of despair.

Despair is the saddest state of being because it means I’ve rejected God’s love. God has this crazy way of both simultaneously saying you’re wonderful and I love you so much I’ve sent my Son to die for you and okay, slacker, you are called to become a saint–i.e., the absolute best version of yourself. Passion Week is all about acknowledging self-doubt, cowardice, worst parts of being human, and then taking up our crosses in life to follow Christ, and lastly celebrating that it’s through Christ’s redeeming love we can overcome our failings and be the best we can be. It’s about being real and being really made of love.

It all starts this past Sunday, Palm Sunday, then Holy Thursday with the Seder Meal (passover), and the beautiful washing of feet at mass. In a hauntingly beautiful way, they strip the altar of everything, making way for the solemnity of Good Friday. On Friday, an ancient Latin chant, Tenebrae, is sung in the dark church. My dad has been doing this for about 30 years now. Later in the day, we have the Stations of the Cross, a beautiful prayer focusing on fourteen individual moments during Christ’s passion. The afternoon is marked with three hours of silence from noon to three when Christ hung on the cross. Holy Saturday when Christ is in the tomb, the priests offer blessing of the food for Easter, and then in the evening, Easter Vigil mass where the entire dark church slowly lights up with candles. Then we come to my favorite day of all: Easter Sunday. The most glorious celebration of victory. It’s an action packed week, Passion Week!

So, moral of the story is, it’s great to take an accounting of where you are, where you need to improve, and how you can become a bigger vessel for love, whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs are. While you’re doing so, do not despair as you tally up the areas you need to work on! Be assured that your Creator, the Unmoved Mover, loves you fully knowing this and so much more.

Go within, seek out the darkness, and don’t be overtaken by it. God knows Jesus did this, and then some.

If you’re looking for a place to spend Easter Sunday morning, come to our church, Saint Agnes in Saint Paul. The 10am mass is glorious, and the music will be members of the Minnesota Orchestra & Twin Cities Catholic Chorale performing the Theresienmesse, by Joseph Haydn. As in the past, the Chorale and orchestra will perform Victimae Paschali by Pietro A. Yon for the Offertory. It reverberates in your bones and makes you weep. It’s my favorite piece of all time.


  1. Helen on March 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    You of course mean, “your Creator, the Unmoved Mover…” 🙂

    Thank you for your thoughts on Holy Week: they are truly beautiful and offer much food for thought!

    And your Holy Week services sounds wonderful…if only there were more St Agnes churches in this world!

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 27, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Oh yes, Helen! Sorry, I corrected that weird mis-spelling! Thank you for visiting and for your kind words. I hope you have a wonderful Holy Week and a very fruitful Easter!

  2. Helen on March 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Oh, and thank you Nell for mentioning Tenebrae. It reminded me to go to Wednesday Tenebrae, despite the late hour (8pm-10.40pm!) and feeling tired and heavily pregnant! The psalms and prayers and readings were long and sorrowful, and all in Latin and either chanted or in motet form, all but it really helped to prepare me for the next few days. I said a prayer for you and your little blog, too.

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 27, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      Many thanks, Helen! I hope you felt refreshed, though heavily pregnant that time of night is not exactly refreshing–the Lord is good and I’m sure you got lots of extra graces. Thank you so much for your prayers. I’m sure I felt the effects of them today as everyone is crabby, coping with a bad cold, and antsy to get outside.