Easter Triduum Reflections: Holy Saturday: The big day

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Easter Triduum Reflections: Holy Saturday: The big day

It may seem strange to describe Holy Sat­ur­day as “The big day”. In terms of sal­va­tion the Cru­ci­fix­ion on Good Fri­day and the Res­ur­rec­tion of Easter would seem big­ger. Yet in terms of the church the biggest mass of the year comes on Holy Sat­ur­day in the form of the Easter Vigil.

You have the Mass begin­ning with a cer­e­mony of fire, more scrip­ture read­ings than any other mass of the year (even the abbre­vi­ated mass has five or more ) the return of the Alleluia and the recep­tion of con­verts into the church, a ver­i­ta­ble salma­gundi of devo­tions and prayers.

Why have all of this at the vigil rather than at Easter, because it is at the end of that fate­ful Sat­ur­day when every­body from the Chief Priests to the Romans to even the dis­ci­ples thought that Jesus and his min­istry were finally at an end. None of them sus­pect­ing that Christ, hav­ing con­quered sin, was about to con­quer death and change the his­tory of human­ity forever.

It would not be until the next day that the women would find the stone rolled away, the tomb empty, the guard nowhere to be seen. It would not be until the next morn­ing that the Jew­ish author­i­ties would find them­selves con­founded indeed it would not be until many weeks that the dis­ci­ples who fled would become the mar­tyrs unafraid of death.

The dis­ci­ples, the Romans (with the excep­tion of the guards) and the Jew­ish Author­i­ties had no idea what was brew­ing that night and com­ing with the dawn of the new day but two thou­sand years later we do!

If that’s not worth a long mass I don’t know what is.

It may seem strange to describe Holy Saturday as “The big day”. In terms of salvation the Crucifixion on Good Friday and the Resurrection of Easter would seem bigger. Yet in terms of the church the biggest mass of the year comes on Holy Saturday in the form of the Easter Vigil.

You have the Mass beginning with a ceremony of fire, more scripture readings than any other mass of the year (even the abbreviated mass has five or more ) the return of the Alleluia and the reception of converts into the church, a veritable salmagundi of devotions and prayers.

Why have all of this at the vigil rather than at Easter, because it is at the end of that fateful Saturday when everybody from the Chief Priests to the Romans to even the disciples thought that Jesus and his ministry were finally at an end. None of them suspecting that Christ, having conquered sin, was about to conquer death and change the history of humanity forever.

It would not be until the next day that the women would find the stone rolled away, the tomb empty, the guard nowhere to be seen. It would not be until the next morning that the Jewish authorities would find themselves confounded indeed it would not be until many weeks that the disciples who fled would become the martyrs unafraid of death.

The disciples, the Romans (with the exception of the guards) and the Jewish Authorities had no idea what was brewing that night and coming with the dawn of the new day but two thousand years later we do!

If that’s not worth a long mass I don’t know what is.