Skip to main content


Holy Saturday: An Ancient Homily

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.

The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - We present an ancient second century homily given on Holy Saturday by Bishop Melito of Sardis for reflection and prayer:

The Lord's descent into the underworld

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell.

Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.

Keywords:



NEWSLETTERS »

E-mail:       Zip Code: (ex. 90001)
Today's Headlines

Sign up for a roundup of the day's top stories. 5 days / week. See Sample

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

1 - 3 of 3 Comments

  1. Denise Bossert
    5 years ago

    I remember reading this the year I entered the Church (but I have forgotten where I first saw it). Thank you SO much for posting it here. It was like finding something special, something I had misplaced.

    Blessed Holy Saturday.

  2. Pete Smith
    5 years ago

    This is a great testimony to our faith. Anybody who says that Jesus didn't decend into Hell as proclaimed when we say the Apostles Creed should read this homily. His teachings were probably passed on to him through word of mouth, which affirms our Catholic tradition. This is a Treasure, thanks!

  3. Paul J. Riesselmann
    5 years ago

    AWESOME and very, very true. This truly is the foundation of our beliefs. No man can dispute the truth!

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

More Easter / Lent

'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading


Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading


Holy Week

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading


Holy Thursday

HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading


Good Friday

On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading


Easter Sunday

Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading


Fasting and Abstinence

For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading


FAQs About Lent

Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading


Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now


What did you give up for Lent?

What did you give up for Lent?

From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »

Lent / Easter News

  • 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading

  • 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading

  • 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package.  It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery:  The Crowning ...Continue Reading

  • Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
    Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading

Good Friday

  • Good Friday

    On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.

    The Cross

    In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More

Ash Wednesday

  • Ash Wednesday

    Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

    The Ashes

    The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More

Stations of the Cross

  • Stations of the Cross

    Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.

    Opening Prayer

    ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations

Fasting & Abstinence

  • 'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35

    Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.

    Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
    Learn More »


Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16
Once the king had settled into his palace and Yahweh had ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
for you have said: love is built to last for ever, you have ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town ... Read More

Reading 2, Romans 16:25-27
And now to him who can make you strong in accordance with the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

December 21 Saint of the Day

St. Peter Canisius
December 21: In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was ... Read More