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A Catholic, Independent, College Preparatory School for Young Women, Grades 6 through 12

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Holy Week and Easter Reflections

An Easter Message from the Head of School 

Throughout Lent, our Notre Dame community has gathered in prayer to ask for God's healing of a human community broken by the Coronavirus pandemic. We have prayed for the grace of compassion and strength as we care for one another in these difficult times.

As we begin Holy Week, we reflect on Pope Francis' "Extraordinary Moment of Prayer" (27 March 2020) in which he notes that in the face of so much global suffering, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus, "That they may all be one" (Jn17:21). The Pope continues, "How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care not to sow panic but a shared responsibility?  How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer?  How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all?  Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons." 

In this spirit, may our Notre Dame community renew and reawaken its Easter faith. May that faith serve as a dawn to our darkness and as light to guide our way.

Judith A. Dwyer, Ph.D.
Head of School


Spiritual Resources from Campus Ministry

Our virtual community prayer on April 1 focused on Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, and our call to service- including our act of service of staying home. There are certainly many ways for us to continue to serve from home, like sending messages of hope to folks in nursing homes and at Divine Providence Village, and sending thank you messages to hospital staff. Through their Religion classes this week, the girls received a Google Doc with ways they can serve while social distancing.

As Holy Week approaches, we have an extra challenge this year as people of faith. While I know many of us will be missing the beautiful liturgies of Palm Sunday and the Triduum, there are ways to observe this holy season from home. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has several resources available to families during this challenging time, as well as a list of local parishes that are livestreaming Masses. Pope Francis says daily Mass at 12:15 pm EDT, and I have included other resources below.

Know of my prayers for all of our Notre Dame families through the coming weeks! Prayers are especially needed for members of the Notre Dame community and their families who have been affected by the coronavirus.

If you'd like to submit a prayer intention to the Notre Dame Prayer List, please click here.

Palm Sunday

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has a Palm Sunday Prayer Service that allows for all members of the family to participate! While Palms will not be distributed on Palm Sunday this year, reading through the Gospel and reflecting as a family is a great way to observe the day.

Holy Thursday

The liturgy of Holy Thursday is called the Mass of the Lord's Supper, a commemoration of Jesus' last supper before his arrest and crucifixion. A ritual that is usually a part of the Mass is the washing of feet, in memory of Jesus' act of service for his disciples. While this ritual will not take place this year, washing each other's feet within your family has powerful significance. Traditionally, at the end of the Mass of the Lord's Supper, altars are stripped. To recreate this experience at home, you could remove religious artwork from the walls, only to be hung again on Easter Sunday.

Good Friday

Good Friday liturgies typically include Stations of the Cross and the Veneration of the Cross, both of which can be done from Home. Busted Halo has virtual Stations of the Cross available to watch and pray along with, and there are many more ways of praying the Stations of the Cross online. If you have a crucifix or cross in your home, you can take some time to reflect on its importance and symbolism, and take a moment to venerate (kneel or bow before it, sometimes kiss) it. Traditionally, Catholics are encouraged to fast on Good Friday and maintain prayerful silence between the hours of 12 and 3 PM in honor of Christ's death on the cross. Reflections on the "Seven Last Words" are often rich resources for prayer.

Holy Saturday

As we wait with hope for Christ's Resurrection, we think about and pray with the ideas of dying and rising, with the ultimate focus being new life. Take a walk with your family and look for signs of new life in nature, and have a conversation about what habits or choices you need to "die" to in order to live a new life closer to the Good God. If your family typically would attend Easter Vigil Mass, either stream the Mass or take time with the Gospel readings. To recreate the liturgical experience, you could begin in darkness and gradually light candles or add lights to symbolize the light coming into the world in Christ's Resurrection!

Easter Sunday

While we cannot celebrate Easter with extended family this year, that does not mean that we are unable to spend time with them. Setting up a family Zoom call or Google Hangout is a great way to make the day more festive! The Archdiocese of Philadelphia will stream Easter Mass at 11 AM from the Cathedral, and to make it feel special, you can light candles and set the space around the screen. Return religious artwork to the walls, take the chance to dress up, and celebrate that Christ is risen! 

Ms. Julia Tully
Director of Campus Ministry