Grace: I ask for a real sense of sorrow, anguish, and even tears because of all that Christ has suffered for me.
Material for contemplation: review the whole Passion
Reflection: Today is a day for remembering, for reflecting on what has happened over these past few days. After the intense experience of Thursday night and Friday, we may be tempted to look ahead to the consolation of Easter Sunday just to get some relief. But we have to resist this temptation. Today, just like the first disciples, all we can see is the ugliness of sin and its wrenching effects: our Lord is dead.
Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness.
– Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday
A friend of mine who converted from atheism to Catholicism several years ago said that the most shocking thing he experienced during his first Triduum was coming into the church on Good Friday and seeing the tabernacle empty, its door wide open. In that moment, it suddenly occurred to him: God is dead. The phrase that he had stood by all those years as an atheist was absolutely true. But now it had taken on a whole new depth of meaning that Nietzsche and the other atheist humanists never understood. Yes, today on Holy Saturday, God really is dead. But his death is not the expression of his impotence and irrelevance. Rather, it is the most glorious expression of his love.
In your contemplation today, review in your mind all the events that have taken place from Thursday night to today, re-reading the text if necessary. Where in Jerusalem do you find yourself as you reflect on these days? Have you returned to the upper room along with some other disciples? Where is the Mother of the Lord, and what must she be experiencing at this point? Can you see how the Lord’s suffering is an expression of his love, or is it still too soon to understand anything? What is happening around you in Jerusalem at this point? For us, whatever feasting may be going on at the house of Caiaphas, today is a day of silence and waiting.
If music moves you to greater devotion, listen to Mozart’s setting of Ave Verum Corpus, which captures the spirit of both quiet contemplation and profound awe that Holy Saturday evokes in the disciple who has followed his Lord to the Cross, where he reveals the depths of his love.
Ave verum corpus, natum de Maria Virgine,
vere passum, immolatum in Cruce pro homine,
cujus latus perforatum unda fluxit et sanguine.
Esto nobis praegustatum in mortis examine!
Hail, true body, born of the Virgin Mary,
truly suffered, sacrificed on the Cross for mankind,
whose pierced side flowed with water and blood.
Be for us a foretaste in the trial of death!