a priest's musings on the journey

Friday, April 06, 2007

Holy Saturday: Day of Silence: Christ Reposes in the Tomb

Joseph with Nicodemus,
took You down from the cross,
Your body clothed in glory as with a robe
but seeing You lifeless, naked, and unburied,
began to weep and lament, saying:
"Great is my sorrow, O Sweet Jesus!"
The sun, seeing You hanging upon the cross, was clothed in darkness,
the earth quaked in fear,
and the curtain of the temple was torn asunder.
But, behold! I now see You as accepting death for my sake.
How, O my God, shall I bury You?
With what type of shroud shall I wrap You?
With what hands shall I touch Your body not subject to decay?
O Gracious Lord, with what songs shall I hymn Your departure?
I exalt Your suffering.
I extol in song Your burial and resurrection, calling out:
"O Lord, glory to You."
- Byzantibe Catholic Vespers

Today Hades cries out groaning:
"I should not have accepted the Man born of Mary.
"He came and destroyed my power.
"He shattered the gates of brass.
"As God, He raised the souls I had held captive."
Glory to Thy cross and resurrection, O Lord
- Holy Saturday Vespers Orthodox Church

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."
- Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is perhaps the most neglected of all days in the liturgical year. On this day Jesus body reposed in the tomb- the Son of God, the Lord of Life, dead and lifeless. In the face of the mystery of God in Jesus being dead- really dead- we stand in silence. Who can comprehend it? In the midst of the silence, the Church gathers only for solemn prayer and silent reflection in the empty dark chancel that echoes the bleakness of Christ's cold, dark tomb. On this day the Mass is not offered; there is no Eucharistic thanks-giving. We only wait and be with the sorrow.

The quiet of the day is lost on most however. Children are scurrying to Easter egg hunts. Parents are making last minute shopping trips so their children will be beautiful for the Easter Mass. The altar guild is busy preparing for the Vigil and the Easter Mass. Acolytes and choirs rehearse once more before the Vigil. The silence is lost. While all these things are needful; they rob us of an even more needful experience. Without Holy Saturday, Good Friday sorrow is merely replaced with Easter joy. Without the silent, wrestless waiting of Holy Saturday, we miss the moment when God tranforms the sorrow to joy.

We are so familiar with how the Story ends that we forget what this day was like for Blessed Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Beloved John. Their hearts were filled with grief and sorrow. They had no idea that as the body of Jesus slept in repose, that the Christ was bursting through the gates of hades, and overthrowing the powers of darkness. These are experiences with which I can identify. I often have moments of despair when I feel lost, when it is as if God is a million miles away from me. Holy Saturday hallows those kinds of experiences and feelings. The angst of this day sanctifies the anxieties that we face, when we are stuck between loss and new birth. And this day is neccessary, because it is through the messiness and uncertainty of this day, that the Holy Spirit nurtures the seeds of transformation that grow out of our chaos and yield to a new resurrected reality.

For now, we wait in that silence that settled upon us on Thurdsay night- the fertile silence from which will burst the Festal Shout, "He is Risen".

On God alone my soul in stillness waits;
from him comes my salvation. Psalm 62:1
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 6:33 PM


You're right...

When both secular and Christian scholars come out and agree on something, that's a big blow. Rarely do you see these two camps join together in condemning something. A new book called The Jesus Tomb: Is It Fact or Fiction? by Don Sausa, creates a surprising case that the Lost Tomb of Jesus deceptively omitted some information to make their case look stronger.

This titanic of a documentary has sunk.
Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:05 PM  
thanks for calling me back to this.
Blogger Jared Cramer, at 2:11 PM  

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