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.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - "One thousand one... one thousand two... one thousand three..." KABOOM!
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.
By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Happy birthday to the Catholic Church! Happy birthday to you, who are the body of the Church! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - We're all familiar with our own birthdays, and we celebrate them because they mark the day of the year in which we entered into this life. ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
We all love to celebrate Easter with brightly colored hard boiled eggs, candy, cute pictures of bunnies and chicks and we all love to gather together to party! Regardless of how you celebrate Easter, don't forget the real reason for the holiday. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading
By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
The Easter Bunny is a symbol of Easter that is popular in western culture, especially with children. According to folklore, the Easter Bunny hides Easter eggs for children to find on Easter morning. However, the association between a rabbit and the resurrection of ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
On Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016, Pope Francis stood before pilgrims gathered at St. Peter's Square for the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, the pontiff stood before the packed square to speak of Jesus ... continue reading
By Alex Basile
Author Alex Basile reflects of the true meaning of the Resurrection of Christ and how many Christians overlook the real joy of Easter. In the haziness of the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene made her way to tomb of her friend and teacher. Fighting back tears and ... continue reading
By Fr. James Farfaglia
With the resurrection of Jesus, the physical is exalted. When we truly believe in Jesus, we are resurrected in this life because we are freed from the fear and worry that are characteristic of a godless life; we are freed from the unhappiness of a life filled ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
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 ... continue reading
By Fr. Randy Sly
Just as the Chief Priests and Pharisees gathered with Pilate to plan on keeping the tomb sealed and guarded with Christ inside, many today want to place a stone in the entrance of the Church, to keep him inside again. On Holy Saturday we remember that no matter how ... continue reading
By Michael Terheyden
Pope Francis said something during his first general audience that inspired me to reflect on the suffering Jesus endured during his Passion for the sake of our redemption. He said, "Living Holy Week means increasingly entering into God's logic, the logic of the Cross. ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
Christ has flooded the universe with divine and sanctifying waves. For the thirsty, he sends a spring of living water from the wound, which the spear opened in His Side. From the wound in Christ's side has come forth the Church, and He has made her His Bride. ... continue reading