Sacred Triduum: April 2010 Archives

Some say that on Holy Saturday Jesus went to hell in triumph, to free the souls long imprisoned there. Others say he descended into a death deeper than death, to embrace in his love even the damned. We do not know. Scripture, tradition and pious writings provide hints and speculations, but about this most silent day it is perhaps best to observe the silence. One day I expect he will tell us all about it. When we are able to understand what we cannot now even understand why we cannot understand. Meanwhile, if we keep very still, there steals upon the silence a song of Easter that was always there. On the long mourners' bench of the eternal pity, we raise our heads, blink away our tears and exchange looks that dare to question, 'Could it be?' But of course. That is what it was about. That is what it is all about. O felix culpa!


O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,

Which gained for us so great a Redeemer!


To prodigal children lost in a distant land, to disciples who forsook him and fled, to a thief who believed or maybe took pity and pretended to believe, to those who did not know that what they did they did to God, to the whole bedraggled company of humankind he had abandoned heaven to join, he (Jesus) says: 'Come. Everything is ready now. In your fears and your laughter, in your friendships and farewells, in your loves and losses, in what you have been able to do and in what you know you will never get done, come, follow me. We are going home to the waiting Father.'"


Father Richard John Neuhaus

Death on a Friday Afternoon

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Cantalamessa.jpgThe official preacher to the pope, but not an official of the Holy See, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preached this homily to the Holy Father (and thus to the world) at the Good Friday Service. The preacher's has received much criticism --VERY unfairly in my opinion if you read what he said-- from the secular world, from Catholics who live on the margins of the Faith and others like the Jews for the points of comparisons made therein. It is not a perfect text and nor is it prudent in some places, but it needs to be engaged with faith and reason and not broken into pieces and read out of context. Read the text!!! The problem is that the sound bites we receive from the media become the only criteria of assessing whether something is good, worthy or acceptable for consumption whereas reason would want to hear the whole thing, even to re-read what was said before making foolish comments. Does the imperfect always mean bad? Father Cantalmessa is an evocative and provocative thinker and preacher. I think he deserves a fair hearing without the spin given in the media.

Father Raniero's homily can be read here Good Friday homily 2010.pdf.

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harrowing of hell.jpgOn Great and Holy Saturday the Church contemplates the mystery of the Lord's descent into Hades, the place of the dead. Death, our ultimate enemy, is defeated from within. "He (Christ) gave Himself as a ransom to death in which we were held captive, sold under sin. Descending into Hades through the Cross ... He loosed the bonds of death" (Liturgy of Saint Basil).


From 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.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep.
Greatly desiring to visit those
who live in darkness and in the shadow of death,
He has gone to free from sorrow captive Adam and Eve,
He who is both God and the Son of Eve.
The Lord approached them bearing the cross,
the weapon that had won Him the victory.
At the sight of Him,
Adam (the first man He had created) struck his breast
and cried out to everyone:
"The Lord be with you all!"
Christ answered him, "And with your spirit!"
and took him by the hand and raised him up, saying:
"Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light!"

"I am your God,
who for your sake have become your Son.
Out of love for you and for your descendants,
I now by My own authority
command all who are held in bondage to come forth,
all who are in darkness to be enlightened,
all who are sleeping to arise.
I order you, O sleeper, to awake!
I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell.
Rise from the dead,
for I am the life of the dead.
Rise up, work of My hands,
you who were created in My image.
Rise, let us leave this place,
for you are in Me and I am in you;
together we form only one person
and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son;
I, the Lord, took the form of a slave;
I, whose home is above the heavens,
descended to the earth and beneath the earth.
For your sake, for the sake of mankind,
I became like a man without help, free among the dead.
For the sake of you, who left a garden,
I was betrayed in a garden,
and I was crucified in a garden.

See on My face the spittle I received
in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you.
See there the marks of the blows I received
in order to refashion your warped nature in My image.
On My back, see the marks of the scourging I endured
to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back.
See My hands, nailed firmly to a tree,
for you who once wickedly stretched out your hands to a tree.

I slept on the cross
and a spear pierced My side
for you who slept in paradise
and brought forth Eve from your side.
My side has healed the pain in yours.
The spear that pierced Me
has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place.
The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise.
I will not restore you to that paradise,
but I will enthrone you in heaven.
I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life,
but see, I who am Life Itself
am now one with you.
I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded,
but now I make them worship you as God.
The throne formed by cherubim
awaits you, its bearers swift and eager.
The bridal chamber is adorned,
the banquet is ready,
the eternal dwelling places are prepared,
the treasure houses of all good things lie open.
The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

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God's Friday

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Crucifixion of ChristFor our sake he was crucified!  Jesus, at his death, embraced the tragic experience of death as it had been fashioned by our sins; yet, in his death, Jesus filled death itself with Love, he filled it with the presence of God.  By Christ's death, death itself was vanquished, for he filled death with the one power capable of cancelling the sin that had spawned it: Jesus filled death with Love!


Through faith and Baptism, we have access to the death of Christ, to the mystery of the Love by which Christ himself tasted and conquered death ... and this in turn becomes the first step of our journey back to God, a journey which will end at the moment of our own death, a death experienced in Christ and with Christ: in Love!

~Archbishop Angelo Comastri

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Pope Benedict washes feet 2010.jpg"...God has shown himself, because he, infinite and beyond the grasp of our reason, is the God who is close to us, who loves us, and whom we can know and love.


Jesus prays for the Church to be one and apostolic. This prayer, then, is properly speaking an act which founds the Church. The Lord prays to the Father for the Church. She is born of the prayer of Jesus and through the preaching of the Apostles, who make known God's name and introduce men and women into the fellowship of love with God. Jesus thus prays that the preaching of the disciples will continue for all time, that it will gather together men and women who know God and the one he has sent, his Son Jesus Christ. He prays that men and women may be led to faith and, through faith, to love. He asks the Father that these believers "be in us" (v. 21); that they will live, in other words, in interior communion with God and Jesus Christ, and that this inward being in communion with God may give rise to visible unity. Twice the Lord says that this unity should make the world believe in the mission of Jesus. It must thus be a unity which can be seen - a unity which so transcends ordinary human possibilities as to become a sign before the world and to authenticate the mission of Jesus Christ. Jesus' prayer gives us the assurance that the preaching of the Apostles will never fail throughout history; that it will always awaken faith and gather men and women into unity - into a unity which becomes a testimony to the mission of Jesus Christ. But this prayer also challenges us to a constant examination of conscience. At this hour the Lord is asking us: are you living, through faith, in fellowship with me and thus in fellowship with God? Or are you rather living for yourself, and thus apart from faith? And are you not thus guilty of the inconsistency which obscures my mission in the world and prevents men and women from encountering God's love? It was part of the historical Passion of Jesus, and remains part of his ongoing Passion throughout history, that he saw, and even now continues to see, all that threatens and destroys unity. As we meditate on the Passion of the Lord, let us also feel Jesus' pain at the way that we contradict his prayer, that we resist his love, that we oppose the unity which should bear witness before the world to his mission.


Pope Benedict XVI

Holy Thursday 2010, excerpt of homily

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. After years of study, work and trying to find meaning in life, he still has a sense of humor. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic lay ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Sacred Triduum category from April 2010.

Sacred Triduum: March 2010 is the previous archive.

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