Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Randy Sly

4/25/2011 (5 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The tomb was silent but hell was not!

For some, Holy Saturday may seem like a stark barrier between the awesomeness of Good Friday and the Glory of Easter. There is something to be said for silence as the Church waits. standing still. until the Vigil when the New Fire is kindled in the Service of Light.

Highlights

By Randy Sly

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/25/2011 (5 years ago)

Published in Lent / Easter

Keywords: Holy Saturday, the tomb, decent into hell, St. Melito, Randy Sly


WASHINGTON (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.

St. Melito of Sardis, a second century bishop and apologist wrote the following concerning the work of Christ on Holy Saturday.

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.

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.

-----

Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

---


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


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More Lent / Easter

8 thought-provoking Easter quotes to inspire Watch

Image of Easter is more than eggs and bunnies.

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


The surprising origins of the Easter Bunny -- it's not what you think! Watch

Image of Rejoice! The beloved Easter Bunny has very Christian origins.

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


'The Easter message of the risen Christ': Listen to Pope Francis' Easter Mass Watch

Image of Pope Francis celebrated the Easter Mass and focused on Christ and refugees (Reuters).

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


Missing The Point of Easter Watch

Image of Alex Basile [not pictured] is the Religion Department chair at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, NY. He has written nine books for Saint Pauls/Alba House. www.alexbasile.net

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


He Has Truly Risen, We Are Free From Fear Watch

Image of The Tomb is empty!

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


HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence Watch

Image of The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.

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


Holy Saturday: 'Make Sure He's Dead' Watch

Image of God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear

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


Good Friday Reflection on the Logic of the Cross Watch

Image of Benedict says,

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


Good Friday: The Church Born From the Wounded Side of Christ Pauses at the Cross Watch

Image of

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


The Sacred Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. The Mystery of Faith

Image of The Liturgical year in the words of Monsignor Peter Elliott

By Deacon Keith Fournier

"Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the liturgy" (Catechism of the Catholic Church) . ... continue reading


All Lent / Easter News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, May 04, 2016
  • 'Our warriors are everywhere': ISIS uses CHILDREN to threaten Europe
  • Your Daily Inspirational Meme: I fear no evil!
  • Captain James Cook wreckage discovered!
  • Daily Reading for Thursday, May 5th, 2016 HD Video
  • St. Florian: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, May 04, 2016
  • St. Matthew HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 17:15, 22--18:1
15 Paul's escort took him as far as Athens, and went back with ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh from the heavens, praise him in the ... Read More

Gospel, John 16:12-15
12 I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 4th, 2016 Image

St. Florian
May 4: The St. Florian commemorated in the Roman ... Read More