Have you done everything you had intended to do this Lent? Did you strive heroically? Did you keep all your resolutions? Did you spiritually grow by leaps and bounds?

If you did, then you can stop reading now. If you didn’t, then read on.

While there are some of us who can faithfully keep their Lenten promises, there are many of us (yours truly included) who mean well but can’t seem to stay the course consistently throughout. That doesn’t make us bad Catholics; it makes us human Catholics. Sadly, our humanness can foil even the best of plans and derail the firmest of intentions. Thankfully, we have a Merciful Savior who intrinsically understands the human condition.

What’s done is done. Most of Lent is gone.

However, we have the blessed opportunity to put things right, so to speak, during this final week of Lent. Between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, we have the possibility to spiritually follow our Lord as he enters Jerusalem for the last time, shares a parting meal with his closest friends, and enter into his Passion and Crucifixion. We can stand guard outside his tomb and await his Resurrection. We can spend this week striving like we’ve never striven before. We can’t replace the weeks that are passed, but we can turn this final week into a strong finish. Below are five ways you can do that.

  1. Turn Off and Tune Out: Except for media that actually help you with prayer and contemplation, maintain silence during Holy Week. Use the quiet to listen to what our Lord wants to say to you. Invite him in for a heart-to-heart conversation that lasts all week long.
  2. Give Up: Dare to live austerely this week. Fast daily or eat only what is absolutely necessary to sustain yourself. Remember all those things you wanted to give up for Lent? Well, now’s the time to regenerate that commitment.
  3. Get Up. Rise an hour earlier than usual. Spend the time in prayer, spiritual reading, or taking a solitary, meditative walk outdoors. If an hour isn’t reasonable because of your circumstances, try 30 minutes. Even 15 minutes is something.
  4. Hit the Books: It’s unlikely that you’d be able to read an entire book in one week, but at least read parts of a great spiritual work that will draw into the suffering of Jesus. Sure, we hear the Passion on Palm Sunday and again on Good Friday, but what about the other days? Why not read the entire Scripture sequence on your own – slowly, and with purpose?
  5. Change the Atmosphere: Humans are tactile creatures, and we need tangibles to help us relate to the intangibles. Create a Holy Week atmosphere in your home with the Crucifix placed prominently so that it will remind you at all times of what this week is all about. If you have a prayer corner, follow the Catholic tradition of covering the symbols with purple cloth as is done in parish churches. If you don’t have a prayer corner, this is the perfect time to set it up. You might try including a candle and a Bible open to the Passion narrative to enhance the arrangement.

Whatever you choose to do – or not do – during Holy Week is less important than how you choose to do it. What our Lord is looking for – longing for – is your ardent love. Perhaps it will help to keep in mind these words of Mother Teresa: “As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”

It’s that mutual love that will assure that this is a Holy Week, not a Holy Weak.