Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Saturday- The Triduum's space between


Today is the day of silence that falls between our gathering on Holy Thursday and the dismissal at the end of the Vigil tonight. The Triduum is all of a piece. From the Mass of the Lord's Supper to the dimissal at the end of the Easter Vigil, we are convened in liturgy, caught up in the mysterium paschale, the great mystery of our redemption, the mystery of the Lord's passing over from death into life.

Holy Saturday is, without a doubt, the oddest day of the year- "there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness", so we read in an ancient, anonymous homily for Holy Saturday. This homily is the second reading for the Office of Readings for this day. Every year I am deeply moved by it, especially by the account of Christ's descent into hell, where he seeks out our first parents, Adam and Eve. Upon finding them, he says:

"I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you . . . and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden."

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