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Holy Saturday: God has Died in the Flesh and Hell Trembles with Fear

By Deacon Keith Fournier
4/20/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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

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.

Holy Saturday Byzantine Icon. This is a day which presents to those who approach it in contemplation, an opportunity to probe the mystery of life and death. It is a day to enter into the deeper mysteries of the faith with the millions and millions of those who have gone before us.

Holy Saturday Byzantine Icon. This is a day which presents to those who approach it in contemplation, an opportunity to probe the mystery of life and death. It is a day to enter into the deeper mysteries of the faith with the millions and millions of those who have gone before us.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - Last night, in a simple yet moving service, Christians throughout the world commemorated Good Friday by venerating the cross. In my parish, tears flowed as the sincerity of devotion met the manifestation of a Love beyond all words.

Today, we stand at the watch, waiting for the fulfillment of the great promise of Life triumphing over death. Today, we keep silent. 

Holy Saturday is a day which takes on more significance to me as I grow older. It is an invitation to deep reflection. It presents to those who approach it in contemplation, an opportunity to probe the mystery of life and death. It is a day to enter into the deeper mysteries of the faith with the millions and millions of those who have gone before us.

Today we pause at the grave,knowing that the One who was wrapped in that linen is our Champion, and He has prepared the way into the happiness of the communion of love for all who understand the power of faith.

Among the many great treasures of being a Catholic Christian is the treasury of inspired reflections we have given to us in our unbroken Christian tradition; our family history. For example, the writings of the early fathers of the church.

As a member of the clergy, a deacon, I was asked to pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily upon my ordination. In fact, since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has encouraged ALL of the faithful, clergy, consecrated religious and lay faithful to do so.

This beautiful format for prayer places us in a solidarity of worship with the Church universal.In a way whiich can only be experienced, it roots us in the heart of the Church, for the sake of the world. Over my years of ministry I have seen lives totally transformed when people choose to respond to the invitation of the Church to enter into this pattern of prayer. It opens up into a way of life.

In the Office of Readings we find selective quotations and citations from our history 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. More and more of the faithful are finding the treasure and growing in their relationship with the Living God as they feast on these beautiful readings form our family history

On this Holy Saturday, we are offered in the Liturgy of the Hours an exquisite excerpt from a writing or homily offered on this day by an anonymous Christian. Some believe it was the Second Century Bishop of Sardis named Melito.

However, it is not who wrote these extraordinary words which matters. Rather, it is the mystery which they open up, for all those who have the eyes of living faith. I present these inspired words 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 the morning to simply sit in the silence of prayer and read this homily.I We also present one of the multiple icons which this mystery has inspired to enhance our prayerful reflection for the Great Easter Vigil in which we will soon participate.Now, with the Church joined in communion, in heaven and on earth, through the centuries, let us wait at the tomb in holy silence.

*****

The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep

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 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".

---


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