Traditionally, the day before Easter is known as “Holy Saturday.” It’s one of the few times of the year when there are no liturgical colors on the altar. It is one of just two days of the year (Good Friday and Holy Saturday) that the Catholic Church does not say Mass.
Why all the mourning? Because the Cross of Christ is not a gold pendant on a necklace, but an execution stake for a righteous man.
The Cross is a reason to mourn. Holy Saturday is a day of patient waiting and a day of grief. We all need to practice patience and grief in a world where suffering is the norm and the redemption of all things cannot come quickly enough. Too quickly moving to Easter celebration does not allow the reality to sink in…we would have killed him too. In fact, we did. The Cross confronts us with the reality that we too killed Jesus.
At sunset on this night is the appropriate time for another traditional act of worship. The Easter Vigil started as a time for the faithful to gather late on Easter Eve for prayer. Songs are sung. Prayers are said. Those who are seeking baptism receive the gift of eternal life. And then we wait. We wait for the resurrection of Jesus that is symbolized by the rising of the sun. Few of our churches still have these Vigils, but we all wait for the resurrection.
As you look back at this Lenten journey, what are the areas of your life that are most in need of the resurrection? Where is your pain deepest? In what ways are you most lonely? What is the shape of your “God-shaped hole?”
As you wait for Resurrection Sunday, take time today to ask God for healing and restoration for particular areas of your life. After you have submitted them to his care, pray this Anglican prayer.
Merciful and everliving God, Creator of heaven and earth, the crucified body of your Son was laid in a tomb and rested on this holy day.
Grant that we may await with him the dawning of the third day and rise in newness of life, through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)