Holy Saturday

The day before Easter is Holy Saturday, also known as the Harrowing of Hell. This is the third day of the the sacred Paschal Triduum.

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.

The day is marked by silence and gravity as 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:

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 great silence:

Between the horror and the glory:

Christ’s stay in the tomb constitutes the real link between his passible state before Easter and his glorious and risen state today. The same person of the “Living One” can say, “I died, and behold I am alive for evermore”: God [the Son] did not impede death from separating his soul from his body according to the necessary order of nature, but has reunited them to one another in the Resurrection, so that He himself might be, in his person, the meeting point for death and life, by arresting in Himself the decomposition of nature produced by death and so becoming the source of reunion for the separated parts.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 625

Jesus attracted his prey:

Jesus experienced death like all men:

The King sleeps, still at work:

Holy Saturday is the day of silence: there is a great silence throughout the World; a silence lived by the first disciples in mourning and bewilderment, shocked by Jesus’ ignominious death. While the Word is silent, while Life is in the sepulchre, those who had hoped in Him were put to a difficult test, they felt like orphans, perhaps even orphaned by God. This Saturday is also Mary’s day: She too lived it in tears, but her heart was full of faith, full of hope, full of love. The Mother of Jesus had followed her Son along the way of sorrows and remained at the foot of the Cross, with her soul pierced. But when it all seemed to be over, she kept watch, she kept vigil, in expectation, maintaining her hope in the promise of God who raises the dead. Thus, in the world’s darkest hour, she became the Mother of believers, the Mother of the Church and the sign of hope. Her witness and her intercession sustain us when the weight of the Cross becomes too heavy for each one of us.

Pope Francis, General Audience, 31 March 2021

Celebrating the Easter Vigil and welcoming new Catholics:

The Easter Vigil is the mother of all vigils:

Celebrating the Resurrection where it happened:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

For the salvation of souls:

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