Holy Week and Easter: Prayers on the Breath

May you risk the road
and be graced by what you haven’t planned ~

I am travelling away from home during these marked days.  I will be travelling to enter the delightful, loving chaos that days with children and grandchildren offer.  I’ve chosen this travelling gratefully, but it opens questions in me.

I will miss the time of deep attentiveness and ritual that are usually my practice during this cluster of days.  This is a time in the gracious circle of the Christian year when the knot pulls tight, the grief clenches and then is undone, allowing the flood of joy into all the heaviness we carry. 

This is a season when I feel in my own body the loneliness of Christ, the grief and betrayal, and Christ’s trust in the divine life, in the midst of ignominy and pain.  Then, I feel the joy that results from his beautiful steadfastness.  I feel it quietly, with the deep, free breathing of humility and with the tears that come when we are gathered up into beauty by one who loves us unreservedly.

How do I stay with Christ in the last days of his journey as I live in an uproar of little girls and love, even on Good Friday and Holy Saturday? 

I’ve answered my question with a commitment to breath prayers.  Waking in the morning, lying down at night, in the small moments between one activity or another, my breath will turn me toward the mystery.  In this, as in so much of my life of the Spirit, my body will carry me deeper.

So, I’ve been writing breath prayers.  I want to share some with you in case you too are travelling, physically or in spirit these days.  May you risk the road and be graced by what you haven’t planned.

Choose one prayer for each day or string each day’s prayers together like beads.  Pause for a wordless, spacious breath before you begin .  Let your breath slow and still you. Then inhale on the first phrase of your prayer and exhale the second.  Come close to the One who comes close to you.

Maundy Thursday

You have washed / my feet

You have touched / my body

You have fed / my hunger

Good Friday

I release / my own betrayals

I feel / your salt tears

To You / I trust my spirit

Holy Saturday

I hold / the holy emptiness

I breathe / the potent darkness

I cease / my argument with mystery


I risk / the wash of joy

I dance / with all creation

You have risen / in my life

You may find other resources to invite you deeper here and here or by searching Easter or individual Holy Week Days.

About Catherine Smith

A retired minister with the United Church of Canada I’ve grown up in church, been ordained and served communities that are small or in transition. I’ve seen firsthand just how powerful these experiences can be in helping to foster meaningful connections with others and the Other, the mystery that holds us all. My greatest hope is that my writing and this website will help you live well in the big questions that face all of us in this beautiful, aching world.


  1. Margie Ann MacDonald on April 1, 2023 at 9:25 am

    Catherine, these words are so welcomed and fitting for my life just now. You have a wonderful way of expressing insightful and heartfelt emotions. Thank you. May your visit with your little girls be filled with the joy of the season. Thank you again!

    • Catherine Smith on April 1, 2023 at 9:11 pm

      I’m so glad they’re words for you right now, Margie Ann. Thank you for taking the time to tell me. May the coming days bring you spacious and intimate moments and may Easter fill you with joy!

  2. Kerry Howarth on April 1, 2023 at 9:10 am

    Angels on your wheels, Catherine and John! Breath prayers for the blessed busyness of Holy Week – YES!! May your time with family bring much joy. <3

    • Catherine Smith on April 1, 2023 at 9:12 pm

      We’ll keep an eye out for those angels, Kerry! Blessings to you and yours!

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