Tag Archives: Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

The AnastasisBy descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
Saint John Chrysostom
Catechetical Sermon for Easter

Holy Saturday, when the earth trembles and is silent

Jesus bringing Adam and Eve outJesus has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light!”

An ancient homily for 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 King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear…”

Holy Saturday from an Orthodox perspective

Holy Saturday is one of the mis-understood days the sacred Triduum. As a church body, we just don’t have a firm  grasp of what Mother Church has to say and experience. Several theologians, for example, Popes John Paul and Benedict, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Richard John Neuhaus have all tried to focus our attention on what God has done for us on Holy Saturday. Father Alexander Schmemann, an orthodox liturgical theologian and priest, is one of my favorite liturgical authors. Sadly, he died of cancer many years ago, but his work continues to bear much fruit, as I hope you will appreciate by reading the following entry. Since today is Holy Saturday for the Orthodox Church, I am offering for our meditation (a review?) the events of our salvation.

Great and Holy Saturday is the day on which Christ reposed in the tomb. The Church calls this day the Blessed Sabbath.

“The great Moses mystically foreshadowed this day when he said:

God blessed the seventh day.

This is the blessed Sabbath

This is the day of rest,

on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works….” (Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Saturday)

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By using this title the Church links Holy Saturday with the creative act of God. In the initial account of creation as found in the Book of Genesis, God made man in His own image and likeness. To be truly himself, man was to live in constant communion with the source and dynamic power of that image: God. Man fell from God. Now Christ, the Son of God through whom all things were created, has come to restore man to communion with God. He thereby completes creation. All things are again as they should be. His mission is consummated. On the Blessed Sabbath He rests from all His works.


Holy Saturday is a neglected day in parish life. Few people attend the Services. Popular piety usually reduces Holy Week to one day–Holy Friday. This day is quickly replaced by another–Easter Sunday. Christ is dead and then suddenly alive. Great sorrow is suddenly replaced by great joy. In such a scheme Holy Saturday is lost.

In the understanding of the Church, sorrow is not replaced by joy; it is transformed into joy. This distinction indicates that it is precisely within death that Christ continues to effect triumph.

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The Blessing of the Easter Food on Holy Saturday

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Bless, O Lord, this creation that it may be a means of salvation to the human race, and grant that, by the invocation of Thy Holy Name, it may promote health of body, and the salvation of souls in those who partake of it, through Christ our Lord.

[The Blessing of the Easter Food] is a wonderful tradition in Russia and the Slavic countries. On Holy Saturday and Easter itself, the people bring baskets of food to the church to be blessed….The baskets are filled with colored eggs, butter, salo (fatback, like bacon), different kinds of stuffed rolls, candies and cakes. But above all there is pascha, a specially baked cake, rich in eggs, topped with icing, and decorated with candy crosses or Easter figures. It’s the first thing the family eats after the Easter services. The Easter basket is an integral part of the tradition, for in order to observe the feast properly, people fast all very strictly during Holy Week and abstain from all meat.

Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.

With God in Russia

God speaks through the Cross and responds to evil, God’s word is Mercy

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The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It is also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. Remember this: God judges, loving. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves. Dear brothers and sisters, the word of the Cross is also the answer which Christians offer in the face of evil, the evil that continues to work in us and around us. Christians must respond to evil with good, taking the Cross upon themselves as Jesus did.

Pope Francis

Via Crucis 2013

excerpt of a message

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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