Holy Saturday: The Sounds of Silence
Holy Saturday seems like a stark barrier between the awesomeness of Good Friday and the Glory of Easter. There is something to be said, however, for silence as the Church waits… standing still… until the Vigil when the New Fire is kindled in the Service of Light.
As a child I learned to stand still after a lightning flash and count to myself until I heard the thunder. That would tell me how far away the storm was located. I had no idea when the sound would come… I just waited and counted.
Over the years I have often used this interval to describe the pause that takes place just before an actual shift in thinking or action takes place. Throughout history this natural phenomenon is reflected in a lightning flash of insight that is soon followed by the sounds of responding action.
Such is Holy Saturday – when we stand in the silence and count the hours until the New Fire of the Service of Light during the Easter Vigil is kindled.
So what should we make of this time… this interval? Should we just go about our business as usual, then pick up our observation at sunset?
On this side of the cross we already know that Easter will come, as it already has. We are fully aware that the tomb was empty and the account that will be read on the Lord’s Day will not change. So, in this day of silence, as we remember Christ in the tomb, we also remember that while it was silent on earth, the spirit world as quite active.
“He descended into hell…” The Catholic Catechism quotes from an ancient Holy Saturday homily when addressing the creedal statement that has been apart of Christian faith since the very beginning.
Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great 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. . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, 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 Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him - He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. [Catechism, Profession of Faith, 635]
Silence and stillness reigns today. We can reflect on Christ’s descent to the abode of the dead, there declaring that the final death has been conquered once-and-for-all. He preached hope to the hopeless and life those who had none.
Holy Saturday is a day to pray for those who walk among us as the living dead. Their hope is placed in all things other than Christ and, for them, death will be ultimate, final, and hopeless.
Yet, they are living in the interval. The thunder has not sounded, signaling the end. Christ is there for them, declaring the same hope he did on the first Holy Saturday.
Let us pray for our family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even those who are known to God but merely cross our path.
Many years ago I was attending a Convention Manager’s Training Conference in California in preparation for leadership of a large denominational youth convention. My roommate for the event, a fellow minister named Steve, and I were partnered with a perky tour guide from Disneyland for the final event – a backstage tour of the Magic Kingdom.
We not only rode the rides, we went underground and behind the scenes to learn how the greatest 24/7 convention in the world was managed. As we were led through each exhibit, Steve kept bringing up questions of the Christian faith with our guide. I was a little uncomfortable at his persistence. Little by little we learned more about the young woman who was our escort; that her husband was a student at a nearby seminary, and that she had a vibrant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We had some great conversations.
Later back in the room I asked Steve about his foray into this spiritual discussion. He told me that he carries a burden for anyone he meets, wondering if they have ever responded to the gospel. Often, he said, he would attempt to ask some questions to see where they are concerning the things of God.
While most of us may not share the intensity of his burden; yet we can still share in his vigil, praying for those who are not baptized or have yet to fully embrace their baptism. The living dead walk by us every day. They are not aware of the finality that awaits those who hope in anything other than the Savior.
Christ is calling to these precious souls just as he preached during his descent. He is touching them through word and deed as His Church moves in faith upon the face of the Earth.
There are many among us today who are walking in total ignorance of or detachment from the Gospel and next Easter Vigil may be receiving the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. The only thing needed is a touch.
May this Holy Saturday be a day of remembrance; bringing the names of those with whom we walk and work before the Lord. We can pray that they will receive that special touch – a gift of special grace – from the Lord Himself.
It may come through a total stranger, someone else they know, or even – and especially – from us as they live in the quiet interval between lightning and thunder. When they encounter Him in all of his glory, how can help but be changed? On this day of stillness, pray – the sounds of silence.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people: That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
- 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
- Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
- Lent is almost over, but have YOU kept this Commandment?
- 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
- Holy Thursday: Take Up the Basin and Towel. Love is a Verb.
- Holy Thursday: He Loves to the End
- 2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
- The Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
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 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, 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
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 is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
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 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
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
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 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?
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 »
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
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
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
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
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.
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 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 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 refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'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 »