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How to celebrate Holy Saturday

 “Something strange is happening — there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the (Anointed One) is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh … God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.” — From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday

When I was in grammar school, a thousand years ago, before Vatican II, Easter began with Holy Saturday Noon.

The services were earlier in the morning partly because of the Communion Fast from both food and water after Midnight.  It was while I was in high school that water could be taken any time before Mass.

So I would come racing home from Church. And being the legalist that I was, I waited until noon to dig into all of the candy I had given up for Lent. And the celebration went on throughout the day.

If one takes the opportunity to reflect on the ancient homily quoted above, it is clear that Vatican II restored the actual experience of the Jewish Christians by moving the celebration to the evening, preferably after sunset.

So how do we celebrate Holy Saturday in 2024?

Experience in Solidarity

As necessary as the preparations for the Easter Vigil are, I try to maintain the emptiness and silence of Good Friday. 

Uniting myself with my Jewish Christian ancestors, as well as with so many multitudes today who are reduced to silence, whose voices go unheard, I attempt to experience in solidarity with them the seeming meaninglessness, the hell, into which Jesus the Christ descended before his Resurrection.

Possibly we can accept the invitation to enter into that quiet emptiness for at least a brief time today.  Perhaps we can know by experience that Resurrection is coming after the apparent emptiness of Holy Saturday.  

The nine Scripture Passages read at the Easter Vigil can be rich material for “allowing the Holy Spirit to wash over us” during this precious time.

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Sister Paula Modaff

Sister Paula Modaff

Sister Paula has been a Sister of Providence for more than 50 years. Currently, she ministers as a volunteer tutor in addition to spiritual companionship. Past ministries have included teaching high school students, ministering in Diocesan offices, and serving as a chaplain in health care settings.

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  1. Avatar Deb Griffey on March 30, 2024 at 8:30 am

    “Something strange is happening — there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness…”
    So descriptive of so much. I really appreciate the notion of uniting with those who have been silenced, ‘whose voices go unheard’. Thank you, S. Paula, for this reflection.

  2. Avatar Madonna on March 30, 2024 at 11:32 am

    So happy that our paths crossed. Truly a blessing.

  3. Avatar Marilyn on March 30, 2024 at 1:26 pm

    Paula, thanks so much for this reflection.
    Easter Blessings and my love

  4. Avatar Sabrina S Falls on March 30, 2024 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you, dear sister Paula, for inviting us into the holy silence of this day and to join our Jewish-Christian ancestors in solidarity with all whose voices are silenced. Your reflection reminds me that, in Christ, God abides with all who wander in that liminal space between darkness and dawn. Joyous Easter to you!

  5. Avatar Linda Doyle on March 30, 2024 at 7:33 pm

    Thankyou , sr. Paula , for preparing our hearts , for the joy of Easter . What a blessing !

  6. Avatar Susan Paweski, SP on April 1, 2024 at 9:55 am

    Beautiful invitation to enter into the silence of the Divine. Thank you, Paula.

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