Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

The day before Easter is Holy Saturday, also known as the Harrowing of Hell.

For Jesus’ disciples, this would have been the Jewish Sabbath so they rested.

While Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, his soul descended to Sheol, the Land of the Dead, to free those souls who were worthy of Heaven.

Catholics meditate on Jesus’ descent into hell, praying and fasting while anticipating his Resurrection.

Another Catholic practice is to reflect on the Virgin Mary’s pain and suffering during this time. Because of this, she has earned titles such as Mother of Sorrows and Our Lady of Dolours. 

There is no Mass during the day on Holy Thursday but the Easter Vigil is celebrated after sundown. This special Mass includes a service of light and Easter Proclamation, readings from salvation history, Baptism and Confirmation of new Catholics, and the celebration of the Eucharist.

The day before the Resurrection:

Between the horror and the glory:

Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid Him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried. It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

Luke 23: 50-56

The horror of killing God:

Jesus experienced death like all men:

The King sleeps, still at work:

Holy Saturday is the day when God remains hidden, we read in an ancient Homily: “What has happened? Today the Earth is shrouded in deep silence, deep silence and stillness, profound silence because the King sleeps…. God has died in the flesh, and has gone down to rouse the realm of the dead”. In the Creed, we profess that Jesus Christ was “crucified under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day, He rose again”.

Pope Benedict XVI, Veneration of the Holy Shroud, May 2, 2010

Celebrating the Easter Vigil and welcoming new Catholics:

The Easter Vigil is the mother of all vigils:

During Christ’s period in the tomb, his divine person continued to assume both his soul and his body, although they were separated from each other by death. For this reason the dead Christ’s body “saw no corruption”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 630

The story of salvation in the Easter Vigil readings:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Real Religion:

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