Genesis 1:1-2:2 or 1:1, 26-31a
Genesis 22:1-18 or 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Isaiah 54:5-14, Isaiah 55:1-11
Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4, Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28
On this day throughout the world, the tabernacles in Catholic churches sit empty. Mass is not celebrated on this day. Like an empty tabernacle, Saturday is a day of emptiness. This is how we celebrate Holy Saturday. This is the day about which we pray: “He was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell…” (A better translation: He descended to the place of the dead.)
This is the day we keep silent vigil between Good Friday and the Resurrection. On this day, as in so many days and weeks throughout the world-wide pandemic, we have been called to wait in silence and solitude in a new and different way. In these times of social distancing from one another, and on this day, we are called to experience a spiritual distance from Christ, even as we pray “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.”
Dr. Michael Downey reflects eloquently on Holy Saturday in his book, The Depth of God’s Reach: A Spirituality of Christ’s Descent: “Christian living is always between memory and hope, between promise and fulfillment. Life in Christ is always toward Easter.”
Holy Saturday is the day of hope, when we are reminded that God’s hand can reach to deepest recesses of our lives, of our experience. Hope calls us to resistance; to resist despair, darkness, and death. Where there is resistance, there is hope – as we await Easter.
Deacon Manuel Valencia is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.