From: Living the Liturgical Year
Holy Saturday forms a gap between the sadness of the Crucifixion and the joy of Easter. It is a day of holy waiting, which requires a spirit of patience and prayerfulness. Yet, for most of us, we are busy with Easter baking, last minute cleaning, preparing for guests. How can we hold onto the spirit of patience and prayfulness in the midst of such busyness?
At the foot of the Cross & in the Upper Chamber
Stroll over to a crucifix in your home, and hold yourself present with those who stood at the foot of the Cross with Jesus. At the foot of the Cross stood the “three Marys:” The Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the wife of Cleopas – Jesus’ aunt and the Blessed Mother’s sister-in-law. Feel with a mother and/or father’s heart for your only beloved child.
Among the disciples, only John remained; the other 10 scattered in fear, and closed themselves in the upper chamber. Judas Iscariot, hung himself on a tree. So, at the Cross stood kin and a small representation of the Christian community, with most holding themselves at a distance. Journey in your mind to those hovering in the Upper Chamber, and to Judas — eternally alone, hanging from the tree for his betrayal. Place your fears and your betrayals at the foot of the Cross.
All watched and waited, as they grieved and grappled with fears. Unnatural darkness, earthquakes and storms no doubt added to the tense climate. We empathize with Peter, the passionate follower who denied Jesus three times. Our lives are likewise filled with a mixture of faithfulness and cowardice – patient waiting and anxious distractions. Call to mind the ways you have moments of faithfulness and faithlessness. Place all the busy things that stream through your mind upon the Cross.
Yet, we know how the story turns out. And so we wait with joyful expectation. Our preparations will end with the Vigil tonight (or Mass tomorrow), and then our loud Alleluias will join the bells and trumpets. In the meantime, we wait.
The scope of waiting…
The Blessed Mother is our model for patient waiting. When the Angel Gabriel announced that God had chosen her to bear the Savior, she waited. The Holy Spirit rushed through her, yet she had explaining to do with her family and community. The faithful Anna and Joachim, no doubt believed her. But even the good Joseph needed divine intervention to believe her and trust in God. The throngs threatened, directly or on the periphery, with the sentence Mary faced for those who did not believe: death by stoning. She fled to the high country to be with Elizabeth, and she journeyed to Bethlehem with Joseph for the census. Jesus was born amidst strangers.
And so his ministry encompassed kin and strangers, a succession of strangers whom he healed, whom he preached to, many of whom believed, and many who rejected him. The powerful rejected him, and carried out his death sentence. They were not patient to await the work of God in this world.
And so we wait with Mary in faith. And yet we also wait with Mary Magdalene, with the weight of our sins, awaiting remission by Him who paid our debt of sin. We await God’s plan in our life, as we negotiate the small crosses we carry, wrestle with the uncertainty that awaits, and grapple with our own fears. We also get shaken by calamities, natural and spiritual – all those developments that shake the foundation of our faith.
Virtues in waiting
Temperance is the moral virtue which restrains our impulse to concupiscence – to selfishness and to prefer lower-order rather than higher-order goods. It takes courage to resist temptation, and to choose rightly. Through patience we endure hardships, hurts and all the faces of evil, with a spirit of hopefulness, nurtured by faith, embraced within the arms of divine love.
Most of our lives are lived in Holy Saturdays, where sadnesses and expectant joys comingle. The Resurrection we celebrate tonight foreshadows our expectant joy of eternal life. In the meantime we strive to wait patiently, courageously and temperately.
The Easter Vigil – a celebration not to be missed!
The Easter Vigil service offers a larger experience than Easter Sunday. The service has four parts:
1. The Service of Light: The procession begins sometimes outside, others at the back of the Church. A “first fire” is lit amidst the darkness – symbolizing Christ’s light in the darkness following the Crucifixion, as well as at the beginning of Creation. From that holy fire the Pascal Candle is lit and prepared with the signs of new life:
Vertical line of the Cross: Christ yesterday and today.
Horizontal line of the Cross: The beginning and the End
Alpha and Omega: These Greek Symbols are placed above and below the cross.
Then the numerals of this year are placed in each corner of the cross: “2” to the left top, “0” to the right top, “1” to the left bottom, and “1” to the right bottom. The year 2011 is today’s moment in the who course of Salvation History, which the readings document.
Then we sing the Exsultet:
Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels! Exult, all creation around God’s throne! Jesus Christ, our King is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory! The risen Savior shines upon you! Let this place resound with joy, echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!
For Christ has ransomed us with his blood, and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!
This is night, when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night, when Jesus broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us, had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us! How boundless your merciful love! To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.
Accept this Easter candle, a flame divided but undimmed, a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.
Let it mingle with the lights of heaven and continue bravely burning to dispel the darkness of this night!
May the Morning Star which never sets find this flame still burning: Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all mankind, your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. R. Amen.
2. The Liturgy of the Word: Now we take a journey through Salvation History, connecting the Light in Creation to the Son of Man. The nine readings include seven Old Testament readings and two New Testament readings: the story of creation, Gen 1:1-2; 2; 2) Abraham and Isaac, Gen 22:1-18; 3) Crossing of the Red Sea, Exodus 14:15–15:1; 4) Isaiah 54:5-14; 5) Isaiah 55:1-11; 6) Baruch 3:9-15.32–4:4; 7) Ezekiel 36:16-17.18-28; 8, Romans 6:3-11; and 9) Gospel reading Mark 16:1-7.
3. The Liturgy of Baptism: New members are welcomed with Baptism and reception into the Church, and all renew their Baptismal promises and are blessed with Holy Water.
4. The Liturgy of the Eucharist: We receive anew the Body and Blood of the Savior, whose sacrifice paid the debt for our sin. With Jesus in us, we carry his Grace and Love into our lives and throughout the world.
May your Holy Saturday – and your life – be filled with the Grace of patient waiting.
Family Activity: After you’ve wrapped the caterpillars, got the butterflies ready, dyed the eggs, made the pan gardens, baked the resurrection cookies and/or resurrection rolls…
Make your own Pascal Candle. Use a white candle, and roll polymer class into small lines. You can use this to make the lines of the cross, or you can use with red ball headings to create a cross. Next shape the clay strips into the Greek symbols Alpha & Omega (beginning and end). Place the Alpha above the cross and the Omega below the cross.
Then shape the letters for the year 2011, and place them in each corner of the cross on the candle: the “2” in the top left of the cross, the “0” in the top right of the cross, the “1” in the left bottom of the cross, and the other “1” in the right bottom of the cross. (see red image above)Use straight pins to secure them in the candle.
Light this each night at dinner during the 50 days of Easter, and pray a special Easter prayer.
If Jesus our Head rests, we too, his Body, must rest. That is, we are called to enter into the “rest of the Lord,” as described in the Letter to the Hebrews; “Therefore, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. And whoever enters into the rest of the lord, God’s rest, rests from his own works as God did from his. Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so as not to fall into disobedience” (Heb 4: 9-11). From this passage we learn that it is not activity that prevents us from entering into the rest of God, but disobedience. What gives us true rest, spiritual rest, is obedience to the will of God. Jesus, who was obedient unto death, and who will pass over to the other side of death, shows us that this is the true path of rest. Death to our self-will is the way of life, to that fullness of life that takes us to ‘eternal life.”
— From the Anawim reading for Saturday, April 15, 2017
Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
15 APRIL, 2017, Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil
RENEWING OUR BAPTISMAL PROMISES
“Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’” It is strange that the Risen Lord would ask the disciples to meet Him in Galilee when He was crucified in Jerusalem. Why did not the Lord meet them in Jerusalem after the resurrection? Galilee was the place where He began His ministry. Most of His disciples came from Galilee. Jerusalem, although the place of His passion and glory, would not hold so much memory as Galilee when they were first called by the Lord. This appointment came a week later, after meeting His apostles at the Upper Room.
At Easter, we too must return to that day when we first became disciples of our Lord Jesus through baptism. Easter is an invitation for us to recall that day when we were first baptized. This explains why we renew our baptismal vows with lighted candles followed by the rite of sprinkling of Holy Water. For those of us who were baptized at birth, we had the opportunity to ratify our baptismal promises once again at our confirmation. Those of us who went through the RCIA had the opportunity to make our decision to be baptized in the Lord. When we were baptized, we became a new creation, sons and daughters of God. No longer do we walk in darkness but in the light. How wonderful was that day when we became sons and daughters of God, or when we were empowered to be His witnesses at confirmation!
But where are we now in our faith in Christ? This is the question we need to ask ourselves. Are we still thrilled about our relationship with Christ like the early apostles? Mary Magdalene was deeply in love with our Lord. The women of Jerusalem were faithful to Christ and they stood by the cross of Jesus until His death. They were the first to be at the tomb on the first day of the week. Mary Magdalene was in tears to discover the body of Jesus taken away. St Peter and St John ran to the tomb upon hearing that the body was missing. What about us? Are we still proud to be Catholic? Are we still happy to stand up for Jesus? Are we excited to meet Jesus each Sunday and receive Him in the Eucharist? Do we look forward to meet the Lord in prayer, waiting like Mary Magdalene for the Lord to come into our lives? Some of us were once very close to our Lord, active in Church ministry, passionate in witnessing to Christ and serving Him. But where are we now? Perhaps, our service in the Church has become a routine and duty. There is no longer any passion or enthusiasm in our ministry.
Secondly, are we eager to share our faith stories about our encounters with the Risen Lord? We read that the women, upon encountering the Risen Lord, ran to inform the disciples. They could not contain their joy. “Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.” Indeed, the sign that we have encountered the Risen Lord is when we cannot stop sharing with others what the Lord means to us, what He has done for us in our life and the difference He makes in our life today, which is lived meaningfully, joyfully and purposefully. The lack of missionary zeal to share Christ with others is a clear indication that we are worshipping a dead Christ or worse still, a dead hero. If Jesus were the Christ, the Risen Lord, our saviour, then we, like the apostles, would be announcing Him to the whole world that Christ is our Lord is risen. He lives!
If we have lost our passion for Christ and are apathetic in announcing Christ to others, then we need to recall our baptism and the significance of what it means to be baptized in Christ. To be baptized is to be delivered from our bondage to sin, from darkness and death. This theme of deliverance is central to the Easter Vigil and celebration. This is what the whole Easter Liturgy seeks to do. It tries to recapture the sentiments of being freed from the slavery of sin and deliverance from darkness and death. Hence, we have the rich service of the light, the scripture readings are all focused on the consequences of sin, which is slavery and death. At the same time, we have the light of the Risen Christ overcoming darkness, conquering sin, slavery and death by His resurrection from the dead.
Firstly, in the book of Exodus, we have the deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. They passed through the waters. It is a symbol of dying to the old man and rising with the new Adam. It foreshadows the baptism of the early Christians. By crossing the red sea, they left behind the idols of Egypt and made preparation to enter the Promised Land. For us, we only take nine months to make a decision for Christ and be baptized. The Hebrews had to wait for forty years in the desert to be formed in faith and virtues before they could be allowed to enter into the Promised Land. It was a period of purification and testing. God could have taken them by a direct route to the Promised Land, but instead took them through the Sinai Peninsula for 40 years, wandering in the desert to learn obedience and faith.
We too must recall how our sins keep us under bondage as well. We cannot forgive. We are proud and egoistic. We are addicted to our bad habits and sinful way of life, lust, greed, envy and gluttony. All these sins make us truly slaves to the world, the flesh and to ourselves. We are not able to live as free people. Instead we live in guilt and in regret of our past, yet cannot let go of our sins. We are living in our tomb of sins. All these will be taken away if, like the Israelites, we leave behind our past, die to self and live a new life in Christ. “When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.” Christ’s resurrection and the Holy Spirit will give us that power to deliver us from the bondage of sin.
Secondly, in the Book of Ezekiel, the Israelites in exile were going through a living death, without hope, without meaning and purpose, living in a strange land. But the Lord promised them a new resurrection. Their dry bones would be enfleshed and they would be resurrected and given a new Spirit. Since the Exile was a punishment for their sins, the return must be accompanied by purification where they would be given a new heart and a new spirit. Indeed, they needed a new spirit to live. In our lives too we feel like we are in exile when there is darkness, no direction and meaning. Many of us are living aimlessly, drifting along, not knowing the purpose of life and our destiny. When we live without hope and purpose, then we are still living in the tomb. We have not yet seen the light. What we need to do is to welcome Christ, the radiant light of God that rises in the East and gives us new life and hope. In Christ, we realize that we must die to ourselves, our self-centeredness and live for others. For by serving others, we come to find the meaning and purpose of life. As St Paul wrote, “For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” (2 Cor 5:14f)
When we bring together the themes of slavery to sin and emptiness in life, the letter of St Paul gives us the key to be set free from sin, evil and death. St Paul speaks of baptism as dying to sin and rising to a new life in Christ. Necessarily, to be baptized means a constant imitation of His death so that we can share in His resurrection. In order to be delivered from the slavery of sin, we must be crucified with Christ. With the resurrection, there is hope for all. With sin and death conquered, by love and fullness of life, we can now partake of this resurrected life in Christ. All we need to do now is to live this life of Christ by dying to self and giving ourselves in love and service to God and humanity. This decision must be renewed daily and constantly if we are to share in this new life.
If you have gone through this experience of being liberated from sin and from death, then you too can rejoice. This encounter is ours if we have humbly acknowledged our sins, confessed them, and put on Christ. Those who have died to sin and started walking the life of Christ will understand the power of the resurrection. Indeed, today is the restoration of creation. This is why we celebrate Easter as the beginning of new life, and on a Sunday, the first day of the week. The first reading speaks of the beauty of creation. But sin destroyed the harmony of creation. Sin took away paradise from us and we have lost our likeness of God. With baptism, we have been restored in Christ. We are now children of God, sons and daughters of God. We are now enlightened by Christ. With Him, we have overcome sin and death. This is our joy. This is our hope. Christ is our life. Alleluia!
In a time when technology penetrates our lives in so many ways and materialism exerts such a powerful influence over us, Cardinal Robert Sarah presents a bold book about the strength of silence. The modern world generates so much noise, he says, that seeking moments of silence has become both harder and more necessary than ever before.
Silence is the indispensable doorway to the divine, explains the cardinal in this profound conversation with Nicolas Diat. Within the hushed and hallowed walls of the La Grande Chartreux, the famous Carthusian monastery in the French Alps, Cardinal Sarah addresses the following questions: Can those who do not know silence ever attain truth, beauty, or love? Do not wisdom, artistic vision, and devotion spring from silence, where the voice of God is heard in the depths of the human heart?
After the international success of God or Nothing, Cardinal Sarah seeks to restore to silence its place of honor and importance. “Silence is more important than any other human work,” he says, “for it expresses God. The true revolution comes from silence; it leads us toward God and others so as to place ourselves humbly and generously at their service.”
Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, April 8, 2017 — “I will make them one nation upon the land … and there shall be one prince for them all.” — “No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols.”
Tags: April 15 2017, be filled with the Grace of patient waiting, Blessed Mother, Blessed Mother is our model for patient waiting, Cardinal Robert Sarah, electronic devices, God or Nothing, Heb 4: 9-11, Holy Saturday, iPhones, Jesu is in the Tomb, John the Apostle, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Cleopas, meditation, Prayer and Meditation, Serenity Prayer, silence expresses God, Silence is more important than any other human work, Silence is the indispensable doorway to the divine, silence leads us toward God, the dictatorship of noise, The Power of Silence, true revolution comes from silence