Holy Saturday Meditation – The Great Silence

I was so busy on Good Friday between work at the office and services at both parishes, that I didn’t have time to post. There is nothing I could add to our experience of Good Friday beyond what is so beautifully given to us by the Church in its liturgy. Holding that huge, rough-sawn pine cross on my shoulder for all to venerate was a humbling experience for me, especially witnessing the devotion of those who came forward to reverence it.

Today is Holy Saturday. We are tempted to skip over it and think immediately to tonight and the Easter Vigil. But Holy Saturday has a special significance for us all that warrants our consideration. The Office of Readings today gives us a splendid meditation on the meaning of this day. I present it here in part, having translated it from the Italian copy I use.

From an ancient “Homily for Holy Saturday”. (PG 43, 439. 451. 462-463)

What has happened? Today over the earth there is a great silence, great silence and solitude. Great silence because the King sleeps: the earth is swallowed up with silence because the God-made-flesh slept and has awakened those that have slept for centuries. God is dead in the flesh and has descended to shake the kingdom of the dead.

He went to search out our first father, like the lost sheep. He wanted to descend to visit those who sat in the darkness and the shadow of death. God and his Son went to free Adam and Eve from the suffering that they found in prison.

The Lord entered near to them carrying the arms of victory in the cross. As soon as Adam, the father of all, saw him, beating his heart because of the wonder, he shouted out and said: “May the Lord be with all of us!” And Christ responding, said: “And with your spirit.” And he grasped his hand, shook him, saying: “Awaken, you who sleep, and rise from the dead, and Christ will illuminate you.”

I am your God, who has become your son; who for you and for these others who have their beginning from you and are now imprisoned, I now in my power order: “Leave!” To those that were in the darkness: “Be in the light!” To those that have died: “Rise!” I command you: “Awaken, you who sleep! I have not created you to remain in the prison of the hell. Rise from the dead. I am the life of those who have died. Rise, work of my hands! Rise, you who are created in my image! Rise, leave here! You in me and I in you are in fact of one indivisible nature.”…..

“Rise, go away from here. The enemy made you leave the garden of paradise. I however will not put you back in that garden, but I will put you on the heavenly throne. You were prohibited from touching the symbolic tree of life, but I am the life, I give you what I am. I have put the cherubim in place as your servants to keep you. Now, yes, the cherubim now adore you as if you were a god even though you are not God.

The heavenly throne is ready,… the room is prepared, the table is set, the eternal home is decorated, the gates are open. In other words, the reign of heaven is prepared for you from all eternity.”

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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