Holy Saturday: A Great Silence and Stillness on the Earth Because the King is Asleep
God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
This is the day when we are invited into the deep, hope filled prayer of the whole Church as we prepare for the great Easter Vigil. "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" .
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - Among the great treasures of being a Catholic Christian we are given the wealth of inspired himilies, writings and reflections in our unbroken Christian tradition; our family history. For example, the many writings of those whom we call the early fathers of the church.
As a member of the clergy, a deacon, I was asked to pray every day what is most often called the Liturgy of the Hours when I was ordained. It was more often called the Breviary when I was young. We associated it with priests, monks and religious men and women. Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has encouraged ALL of the faithful, clergy, consecrated religious and the lay faithful to join in praying this marvelous order of prayer.
I began praying "the Hours" many years before my ordination. I was impressed by many in my own Christian journey who helped me along the way. They had a deep insight into the truths of the ancient yet ever new Catholic faith - and I wanted what they had. One of the priests whom the Lord gave me over the years to help guide me on the way of faith was Fr Michael Scanlan, the founder of the renewed Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Fr Mike was always quoting from the early Church writings in his inspired talks, articles, books and homilies. I asked him one day where he got all those wonderfully inspiring quotes and he showed me the source. he also encouraged me to begin to pray the Hours. I will be eternally grateful to him for this gift, and so many more.
This beautiful format for prayer places us in a solidarity of worship with the Church universal. In it's Office of Readings we find selective quotations and citations from our history - and from the rich teaching of the Church - which open up the treasury of which I write - on a daily basis - for our prayerful reflection. They can - and they do - change your life.
However, like all gifts, they must be received and unwrapped. The four volume set can be purchased in most Catholic Book Stores and can be ordered online here. Many Christians of other faith communities are now praying the Liturgy of the Hours.
In fact, these readings are often credited by those who come into the full communion of the Catholic Church as having been one of the sources of water on their journey home. I strongly suggest that people have the actual set to pour over during times of prayer, highlight and return to over the years. However, it is also available online.
Over the years of my service as a Deacon of the Church, the rich readings I have feasted on in morning prayer have gotten inside of me, changing me even after my eyes have left the page. That is what happens with inspired writings. The word "inspire", in its etymology, means "God breathed". The Holy Spirit has indeed guided the Church, leading her in all truth just as the Lord promised.
I have frequently been asked where I find the treasures I share with others. I find myself quoting the writings from the Office of Readings and sharing them frequently in my work of evangelization, apologetics and catechesis. I always tell people where they can find this wonderful source of riches from the Christian tradition. I feel as though I am just one beggar telling another beggar where to find some bread.
I was given a four volume leather bound set of the Liturgy of the Hours at my ordination. It sits under my icons in that area of the room where I pray every day. Each morning, after reading the daily readings for the Mass or Liturgy of the day and spending time in silence, I open the treasure box and pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
Every time I open to the Office of Readings, I know I will find that bread on the trail of my daily Christian journey. I cannot even begin to recount the number of mornings when it has been those readings which acted as a pump for a heart which had grown heavy. The readings help to prime the springs of living water which well up within me as the Holy Spirit begins its work.
On this Holy Saturday, we are offered in the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours an exquisite excerpt from a Second Century Bishop of Sardis named Melito. I offer the holy Bishop's inspired words for my readers below. This is the day when we are invited into the deep, hope filled prayer of the whole Church as we prepare for the great Easter Vigil.
Please, take time out of your morning to sit in prayer and read this homily.I also present one of the multiple icons which this mystery has inspired to enhance our prayerful ...
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