Thursday, April 2, 2009

An Overview - Planning the Menu for Holy Week

There are some weeks during the year, liturgically speaking, that allow us to link our offerings in the kitchen to the Church year more than others - Holy Week is one of those weeks.

Florence Berger perhaps sums it up best in her book, Cooking For Christ, when she says,
"...the cooking which we do will add special significance to the Church Year and Christ will sanctify our daily bread. That is what is meant by the liturgical year in the kitchen."

There are so many recipes here - ideas for those lovely teas, Resurrection Rolls - and so many others in the archives...and yet to be posted. How does one organize and shop for all these ideas to live the liturgy through our humble offerings in the kitchen?

I'd like to offer a weekly menu planning sheet for you to use as you plan your offerings next week.

Click on the image, and then print the menu. Fill in your plans as you go, add in a teatime next week, your meals, the significant focus of each day. Use the menu to shop from as you go to market. I know on a week like Holy Week I like to have a good plan going in so that I too can observe a little silence rather than rushing around wondering if I have everything I need for Hot Cross Buns.

I use this menu sheet year round to help me plan because it helps me link seasonal offerings at the market with meals, teas, and menu plans that link the liturgical year with my family table.

Consider the days of Holy Week:

Palm Sunday
Figs are associated with Palm Sunday - possibly because of the traditionally held belief that Christ ate figs after His entry into Jerusalem. There is also the account of the withering fig tree right after Our Lord's entry.

**A plate of fresh figs and cheese would be lovely on Palm Sunday.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week
These days are usually set aside for intense cleaning and tidying so that the house is made ready to rejoice in the Resurrection and so that the woman of the house can spend Holy Thursday and Good Friday immersed in the liturgy, observing silence, and reflecting in prayer. These days are good days for baking and preparing foods for the days to come. Consider:

**Several loaves of homemade bread
**Your Maundy Thursday meal as you are likely to return home late after the liturgy that evening.
**Get a head start on Easter baking.

Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday
Maundy comes from the Latin "Mandatum", more specifically "Mandatum novum do vobis" -- "A New Commandment I give to you", Our Lord's words spoken to His disciples on the eve of His death. In Germany, Holy Thursday is referred to as Green Thursday. It's actually quite odd how the name came about - Father Weiser explains in Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs,
"In all German-speaking countries people call Maundy Thursday by this name (Grundonnerstag)...Scholars explain its origin from the old German word grunen or greinen (to mourn), which was later corrupted into grun (green)."

**In light of the green connection, albeit a strange one, why not consider a Spinach pie? (recipe below). It is easy to use a paring knife to etch a symbol into the top of a Spinach pie...consider a simple crown of thorns, a Cross, a nail.
**How about shaping your bread dough into a rope to signify the ropes Our Lord was bound by during the scourging?

Spinach Pie

2 boxes of Pillsbury frozen pie shells (in the refrig section)
2 pkgs. frozen spinach - thawed and squeezed to remove excess water
1 lg container ricotta cheese
2 cups fresh grated parmesan
1 large onion - chopped and sauteed in olive oil
3 eggs

You'll need 2 9inch pie dishes. Press a pie shell into the bottom and sides of each pie dish.

Mix spinach, ricotta, onion, eggs, and cheeses in large bowl. Divide in half and split between the two pie dishes. Cover with remaining two pie shells. Trim edges and slit top for venting. Brush with egg if desired. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes.

Good Friday
Without a doubt, the Church leads the faithful on a journey throughout Lent building us to this point - Good Friday. Pius Parsch calls this "Christendom's great day of mourning" and that is exactly what it is. On this one day of the year, out of reverence for the day that Our Lord sacrificed Himself for us, Holy Mother Church restrains from offering the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass. The altar is stripped, sanctuary lamp is dark, lights are out. Our Lord is on the Cross. He thirsts. We mourn.

This one statement by Our Lord, "I thirst", motivates my entire meal plan for the day - it should leave us thirsting. I don't mean that I withhold liquids from my family, but I do mean that the meal offerings are stripped of every extra, every shred of decadence. According to Florence Berger in Cooking for Christ, "Pope Gregory (I) directed that only bread, salt, and vegetables be eaten on Good Friday." For a few years now, we've tried this.

**Consider a hearty, whole-grain bread to sustain everyone on this day.
**How about a vegetable tray for lunch?
**Try roasting or baking some vegetables as a dinner with the whole grain bread - roasted sweet potatoes, baked potatoes (minus all the toppings) with chives and salt, cucumber salad tossed with vinegar.
**Consider incorporating vinegar into an offering this day as a remembrance that vinegar was offered to Our Lord on the Cross.
**Consider water only as a drink for the day remembering that from the Cross Jesus thirsted.

May your Holy Week plans allow you and your families to immerse in the sorrowful tone of the week so that you may rejoice all the more when we hear the Alleluia once again on Easter morning! Pin It


  1. You are so amazingly organized - what great ideas and planning tips.

  2. I agree with MaryM! Great post Jen!! Thank you for sharing your planning sheet with all of us!

  3. Thank you, Jennifer. These are great ideas. Your organization and thoughts always inspire me!

  4. That Spinach Pie sounds perfect ... thanks for posting!

  5. This blog is a great find. Thank you for sharing your recipes!

  6. Had an idea for the spinach pie: I notice 4 cuts- why not incorporate 5 cuts instead for our Lord's wounds.


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    was inspiring. Keep on posting!

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  8. I usually have fish or pasta for the Good Friday dinner, but veggies and bread would work. Never thought of the vinegar before---great idea!!!

  9. I think this is the take on the spinach pie at least commonly found in Italy. The egg baked inside is a really nice touch!
    Thanks for the great ideas! I'm not Catholic, but I appreciate how there's nothing like food to pass on faith and traditions, especially to kids. Thanks to you, we had fig glazed salmon for dinner last night (Palm Sunday) as I discovered fish is also traditional on Palm Sunday.