Sandwiched between the stark drama of Good Friday and the glory of the Easter Vigil, Holy Saturday is often in danger of being skipped over. For many of us, it will be a busy day- perhaps a typical Saturday, or perhaps hectic with preparation for the Easter Vigil. It might feel like a little gap to return to normality in the midst of the Triduum.
But it’s not.
I love Holy Saturday. Not because I enjoy it, exactly, but because it allows me to identify with a certain part of being human which is often overlooked. The part of being human that is about quietly suffering, when you’re all cried-out, when all the energy we had for resisting or complaining has been exhausted, and finally the pain has to become part of everyday life.
Everyone will know an experience in their life where they have lived through something that felt un-liveable, when the trauma and suffering were so acute that you survived on adrenaline until it was all over. Then you went home, closed the door, and all was quiet.
You had to face the grief:
The event itself is over, but the suffering is only just beginning.
I imagine that this is very similar to how the disciples and Mary felt the day after the Crucifixion. Numb, reeling, the pain like a bruise only just beginning to show. Holy Saturday allows us to feel something very human- it goes to the depth of who we are- just as Christ lay in the depths of the earth.
It is important to acknowledge here too that on Holy Saturday, God was dead. Christ didn’t simply pass out, go into a coma, or having a faint heartbeat still ticking away somewhere. To believe that is to negate the Resurrection. He was dead.
We can all face Holy Saturdays in our lives- sometimes they’re borne from dramatic events, other times the slow-burning pain of daily life. They are times when there doesn’t seem to be a resolution to the pain, times when we’re waiting for it to be over, times when we’re struggling to see the point. We can wonder if it will ever be over.
Our Lady can be the key to understanding these times. She trusted God so implicitly that, though she did not understand why her son had to die, she trusted God that everything was in His hands. That doesn’t mean that she felt any less the agony, but it gave her the strength to look into His eyes on the way to Calvary and in turn, give Him strength. It gave her the strength to stand at the foot of the Cross and watch Him die. It gave her the strength to accept His body in her arms. It gave her the strength to accept something she did not fully understand.
So on Holy Saturday, wait with Our Lady, who knew that the story could not end with the events of Good Friday. Holy Saturday did not last forever. After the tomb came the Resurrection. Let us not be too hasty to skip to the glory of the Easter celebration- that will be joyful enough in its own time. Find a moment to sit in a quiet place and accompany Our Lady through the day. In turn, she accompanies us in the Holy Saturdays of our own lives.
(**The first two images contain quotes from the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday, this homily is an unknown fourth-century Greek writer.)