Tag Archives: Holy Week

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

The Crucified Savior of Humanity

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Eric Gill, Crucifixion and host 1915.

Francis’ homily for Holy Thursday 2013

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Lent ends and the sacred Triduum begins with the Mass of Our Lord’s Supper, with the rite of Washing of Feet (known also as the Mandatum). In Rome, the Pope offered Mass at the Casal del Marmo, an inner city detention center. In the chapel dedicated to the title of “Father of Mercies,” were 40 young detainees gathered around him for Mass, 12 youth, Catholics and non-Christians, 2 of whom were young women and 2 Muslims, had their feet washed by the Pontiff. Concelebrating the Mass were Cardinal Agostino Vallini (the Pope’s Vicar for the Diocese of Rome), Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu (‘Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretary of State), Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, (Chaplain to the Casal del Marmo, and papal secretary), 2 deacons, one deacon from the Seminario San Carlo (the Seminary of the Fraternity of St Charles Borromeo) and another, Brother Roi Jenkins Albuen, a Capuchin of the “Addolorata” with Father Gaetano Greco.  Also there were two young seminarians from the Roman Seminary with the assistant chaplain, Colombian Father Pedro Acosta.

Pay attention to what the Pope says!!!!   Also, some photos.

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Here’s Vatican Radio transcript and translation of the Holy Father’s unscripted homily:

“This is moving, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Peter understands nothing. He refuses but Jesus explains to him. Jesus, God did this, and He Himself explains it to the disciples.. ‘Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do’.

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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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