Collect of the Day: Holy Saturday
Fast and Partial Abstinence
The Liturgical Year
by Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.
A night has passed over the tomb, wherein lies buried the Body of the Man-God. Death is triumphant in that silent cave, and holds captive Him that gives life to every creature: but his triumph will soon be at an end. The soldiers may watch, as best they will, over that grave: they cannot hold Jesus prisoner, as soon as the moment fixed for His Resurrection comes. The holy angels are there, profoundly adoring the lifeless Body of Him, whose Blood is to reconcile all things, both on earth, and in heaven. This Body, though for a brief interval separated from the Soul, is still united to the Person of the Son of God; so likewise the Soul, during its separation from the Body, has not for an instant lost its union with the Word. The Divinity remains also united with the Blood which lies sprinkled on Calvary, and which, at the moment of the Resurrection of the Man-God, is to enter once more into His sacred veins.
Let us also return to the sepulcher, and adore the Body of our buried Jesus. Now, at last, we understand what sin has done: by sin, death entered into the world; and it passed upon all men. Though Jesus knew no sin, yet has He permitted death to have dominion over Him, in order that He might make it less bitter to us, and by His Resurrection restore unto us that eternal life, of which we had been deprived by sin. How gratefully we should appreciate this death of our Jesus! By becoming Incarnate, He became a servant; His death was a still deeper humiliation. The sight of this tomb, wherein His Body lies lifeless and cold, teaches us something far more important than the power of death: it reveals to us the immense, the incomprehensible love of God for man. He knew that we were to gain by His humiliations; the greater His humiliations, the greater our exaltations; the greater His humiliations, the greater our exaltation: this was His principle, and it led Him to what seems like an excess! Let us, then, love this sacred sepulcher, which is to give us life. We have thanked Him for having died for us upon the cross; let us thank Him, but most feelingly, for having humbled Himself, for our sake, even to the tomb!
And now let us visit the holy Mother, who has passed the night in Jerusalem, going over, in saddest memory, the scenes she has witnessed. Her Jesus has been a victim to every possible insult and cruelty; He has been crucified; His precious Blood has flowed in torrents from those five Wounds; He is dead, and now lies buried in yonder tomb, as though He were but a mere man, yea the most abject of men. How many tears have fallen, during these long hours, from the eyes of the daughter of David! And yet, her Son has not come back to her! Near her is Magdalene; heart-broken by yesterday’s events, she has no words to tell her grief, for Jesus is gone, and, as she thinks, forever. The other women, less loved by Jesus than Magdalene, yet most dear to Him, stand around the disconsolate Mother. They have braved every insult and danger in order to remain on Calvary till all was over, and they intend returning thither with Magdalene, as soon as the Sabbath is over, to honour the tomb and the Body of Jesus.
John, the adopted son of Mary, and the beloved disciple of Jesus, is oppressed with sorrow. Others, also, of the apostles and disciples visit the house of mourning. Peter, penitent and humble, fears not to appear before the Mother of mercy. Among the disciples are Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. We may easily imagine the conversation—it is on the suffering and death of Jesus, and on the ingratitude of the Jews. The Church, in the seventh responsory of today’s Tenebre, represents these men as saying: “Behold! How the Just One dieth, and there is none that taketh it to heart. Iniquity has had its way. He was silent as a lamb under his shearer, and He opened not His mouth. He was taken away from distress and judgment: but His memory shall be in peace.”
Thus speak the men; the women are thinking of their morrow’s visit to the sepulcher. The saintliness of Jesus, His goodness, His power, His sufferings, His death—everything is remembered, except His Resurrection, which they had often heard Him say should certainly and speedily take place. Mary alone lives in expectation of His triumph. In her was verified that expression of the Holy Ghost, where, speaking of the valiant woman, He says: “Her lamp shall not be put out in the night.” Her courage fails not, because she knows that the sepulcher must yield up its Dead, and her Jesus will rise again to life. St. Paul tells us that our religion is vain, unless we have faith in the mystery of our Lord’s Resurrection: where was this faith on the day after our Lord’s death? In one heart only—and that was Mary’s. As it was her chaste womb that had held so, on this day, by her firm and unwavering faith, she resumes within her single self the whole Church. How sacred is this Saturday, which, notwithstanding all its sadness, is such a day of glory to the Mother of Jesus! It is on this account that the Church has consecrated to Mary the Saturday of every week.
Collect of the Day
Concede, quæsumus, omnípotens Deus: ut qui Fílii tui resurrectiónem devóta expectatióne prævénimus; ejusdem resurrectiónis glóriam consequámur. Per eúmdem Dóminum...
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we who with devout expectation look forward to the Resurrection of Thy Son, may share in the glory of that Resurrection. Through the same...
A Treatise on the Psalms
by St. Augustine of Hippo
How far did they encourage themselves in those diligent searchings, wherein they failed so greatly? So far that even when the Lord was dead and buried, they set a watch over the sepulchre. For they said of Christ to Pilate : That deceiver. By this name the Lord Jesus Christ was named, to the comfort of his servants, when they be called deceivers. That deceiver (say they to Pilate) said while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again : command, therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead ; so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them : Ye have a watch ; go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and settling a watch.
They placed a watch of soldiers over the sepulchre. The earth quaked! The Lord rose again! Such were the miracles wrought round about the sepulchre, that the very soldiers who kept watch might have become witnesses, if they had been willing to declare the truth. But that covetousness which possessed the disciple and companion of Christ, possessed also the soldiers who guarded his tomb. We will give you money (say they), and say ye that his disciples came and stole him away while ye slept. Truly, they failed in their snare and communings. What is this thou saidst, O wretched cunning? Dost thou so far forsake the light of prudence and duty, and plunge thyself so deep in craftiness, as to speak thus : Say ye that his disciples came and stole him away while ye slept? Thou producest sleeping witnesses! Surely thou wast thyself asleep, who didst thus snare thyself in such a snare.
-From the Roman Breviary
POSTED BY DAVID WERLING