The Church delights in the outward expression of the intimate mysteries of faith. The poetic colors in liturgical seasons beckon us to contemplate and wonder about the change of scenery. Walk into any Catholic Church during Holy Week and you just might whisper under your breath: “Something here is different.” There is a fierceness of glory in the atmosphere, a severe sacredness that causes us to ponder the darkness and dare to hope for restoration beyond our current condition. But what brings us to that awareness? The outward expression—the mourning statues cloaked in purple, the stripped altar, the bareness of it all speaks to the Church’s mourning the death of her Bridegroom. The radical change on the Easter Vigil in which lace is abundant, lilies flood the altar with a perfume of new life, holy water splashing, candles warming the interior of the room—all speaking to Christ’s conquering of death.
This outward expression applies not only to the scenery within the church building but also to us as the members of Christ’s Body. There is something very fitting about expressing each day of Holy Week in our clothing. Clothing affects our interior life and vice versa. If we choose to “put on” Holy Week in our clothing, we are physically stepping into a space of contemplation. It is a Catholic gesture to express the soul through garments (just research the depth of significance within any religious order’s habit or a priest’s vestments).
This Holy Week consider asking yourself: What article of clothing will best orient you to prayer that day? What will remind you of what is going on within the Paschal Mystery that day? Below are a few ideas to jumpstart the process.
Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday)
During the Mass we receive blessed palms depicting the scene in which Jesus was welcomed as royalty on his entrance to Jerusalem by the same crowd who would be demanding his death in only a few days. Palms also represent the martyrs within the church, those saints who have joyfully united their earthly suffering to Christ’s. In unison with the church, wear any splash of red or perhaps bring out any of those clothing pieces which have branches or palms printed on them.
Great Monday and Tuesday
Reflecting on Jesus’ encounters within Jerusalem as he prepared for the fulfillment Passover. Dress as if you are on a pilgrimage on these days, traveling closer to the cross. Embrace simplicity and stillness through plain garments (jean, chambray, linen) with soft colors (muted tones).
The day in which Judas was paid 30 pieces of silver for informing the chief priest where they could arrest Jesus the following day. Consider pondering the perspective of Our Lady on this day. She was with the apostles and most likely saw Judas that day—knowing what was to come yet still loved and served as any other day. Her motherly intuition must have been panged throughout the day. Joining Mary in contemplation, wear shades of blue, preferably navy, sharing in the growing sorrow.
Jesus institutes the priesthood through the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Afterwards, He is filled with every mental torment in the garden. Reflecting on Christ’s body given to us through the Eucharist, consider wearing gold jewelry in celebration of this gift. Dark green garments reflect the somber spirit of the garden while also pointing to the hope promised in this event (green represents “new life” within the Church).
We meditate on the death of Christ, especially from noon to 3:00pm. In mourning, it is most fitting to dress for a royal funeral (deep purple, maroon, or black). Avoid any garments that might be distracting for you or become an obstacle during prayer.
We are in the tomb with Christ or perhaps in the heavy grief with the apostles. There is a sweet sense of longing and aching for Christ. In this spirit of waiting, wear gray for the intermediate phase, the process that we wish to rush through. Christ gave us this day to process everything, to be still.
We rejoice in the reality of the Resurrection: death conquered, promises fulfilled, miracles abounding, and new life. On this day, what will you resurrect from your wardrobe? Maybe styling something you always wear the same way. Perhaps digging out that dress that fell in the back of your closet. Consider wearing that skirt you bought weeks ago that still has the tag on. Borrow something from your mom or grandmother and give it new life. Wear the brightly colored dress or those sparkly earrings you never have the chance to wear. This is THE day for ultimate rejoicing and newness.