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Holy Saturday

April 23, 2011

Blessed Holy Saturday,

What is happening?
Today there is a great silence over the earth,
a great silence, and stillness,
a great silence because the King sleeps
Ancient Homily from Holy Saturday,
found in the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday
(the whole thing is well worth the read, especially today)

Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work He had been doing,
He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had undertaken.
-Genesis 2:-2

Today is the seventh day.
God takes His rest in the holy sepulcher.

… in the saying, “God rested on the seventh day,” [Exodus 20:11]
he signified by a great mystery the Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ Himself,
who spoke and said,
“My Father is at work until now, and I am at work as well” [John 5:17].
For the Lord Jesus is, of course, God.
For He is the Word of God, and you have heard that
“in the beginning was the Word” [John 1:1]; and not any word whatsoever,
but “the Word was God, and all things were made by Him” [John 1:3].
He was perhaps signified as about to rest on the seventh day
from all His works.
For, read the Gospel, and see what great works Jesus wrought.
He wrought our salvation on the cross,
that all things foretold by the prophets might be fulfilled in Him.
He was crowned with thorns; He hung on the tree;
said, “I thirst” [John 19:28]
received vinegar on a sponge, that it might be fulfilled which was said,
“And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”[Psalm 69:22]
And when all His works were completed, on the sixth day of the week,
He bowed His head and gave up the ghost,
and on the Sabbath-day He rested in the tomb from all His works.
-St. Augustine, “Tractates on the Gospel According to St. John”,
Tractate 17, 15

Today we keep vigil at His tomb.

On Holy Saturday the Church is, as it were, at the Lord’s tomb,
meditating on His passion and death, and on His descent to the netherworld,
and awaiting his resurrection with prayer and fasting
– Paschales Solemnitatis, Given on January 16, 1988
by the Offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship

We wait with solemn, eager expectation.

The Passover Vigil, in which the Hebrews kept watch for the Lord’s passover
which was to free them from slavery to Pharaoh, …
prefigured the true Pasch of Christ that was to come,
the night that is of true liberation,
in which “destroying the bonds of death,
Christ rose as victor from the depths.”
– Paschales Solemnitatis, Given on January 16, 1988
by the Offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship

We keep vigil on that night because the Lord rose from the dead;
that life…where there is no longer the sleep of death, began for us in His flesh;
being thus risen, death will be no more nor have dominion….
If we have kept vigil for the Risen One,
He will see that we shall reign with Him for ever.
-St. Augustine, “Sermo Guelferbytan”, 5, 4, PLS 2, 552.

Tonight our priests will light and bless a new, sacred fire.

our God is a consuming fire
-Hebrews 12:29

The sacred fire will be used to light the Easter candle, representing Christ Himself.
Jesus said,

I AM the Light of the world
no follower of Mine shall ever walk in darkness
-John 8:12

God is light; in Him there is no darkness
-I John 1:5

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light
-Isaiah 9:2

We, like the Israelites, will follow this pillar of fire (see Exodus 13:21)
into the darkened church, receiving the sacred fire ourselves,
passing it on, lighting up the darkness.

This is the Christian life.
Jesus said,

I have come to light a fire on the earth.
How I wish the blaze were ignited!
-John 12:49

Tonight we will renew our vows,
our Baptismal promises to enter into this new creation,
rejecting Satan and all his darkness, all his empty promises,
staking our lives on God, baring our wicks to His flame
so that He can set us afire with divine love.

It’s not supposed to end here.

If you can, take the sacred fire home with you in a lantern or candle.
Let it remind you of this sacred charge.
If you cannot, at least take it into your heart.
Live it.
Light up the darkness.
Set the world on fire.

Easter Vigil Readings:
Genesis 1:1-2:2 (Creation)
Psalm 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12-14, 24, 35 “Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth”
or Psalm 33:4-7, 12-13, 20-22 “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord”
Genesis 22:1-18 (Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac)
Psalm16:5-11 “Keep me safe O God; You are my hope”
Exodus 14:15-15:1 (the parting of the Red Sea)
Exodus 15:1-17 “Let us sing to the Lord; He has covered Himself in glory”
Isaiah 54:5-14 (God, our Bridegroom, will take us back, and love us)
Psalm 30:1-13 “I will praise You, Lord, for You have rescued me”
Isaiah 55:1-11 (God offers us food and water without cost from His abundance)
Isaiah 12:2-3 “You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation”
Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4 (we are in need because we have forsaken God, the Source of everything)
Psalm 19:8-11 “Lord, You have the words of everlasting life”
Ezekiel 36:16-28 (God will forgive and renew us for His own sake)
Psalm 42:2-43:4 “Like a deer that long for running streams, my soul longs for You, my God”
or Psalm 51:12-19 “Create a clean heart in me, O God”
Romans 6:3-11 (because we have been baptized into Jesus’ death, death has no more power over us)
Psalm 118:1-23 “Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
+Matthew 28:1-10 (the two Marys meet an angel, then the risen Lord)

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