The feast of Holy Saturday is also called The Great Sabbath. It is said that on this day Christ “rested” in the tomb, in death.
In the Greek Orthodox Church, the first service of Holy Saturday takes place in the morning and, while it somewhat breaks the somber spell of Friday, it holds an uneasy time of waiting while Jesus lies in the tomb. Some have called it a time of silence, a time of nothingness. Guy Sayles writes of his experience of this day.
I’m especially drawn to the silence of Holy Saturday: the uneasy, uncertain quiet of the sealed tomb and the still, stagnant air of nothingness. There are no more cries of agony from the cross but not yet any shouts of “Alleluia” either — only the sheer silence of the unknown and the in-between. That place of non-existent existence is where we sometimes are; knowing that God-in-Jesus has endured it assures us that there really is “nothing which can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Guy Sayles
What an awe inspiring sight I experienced as a child when I was taken to church on Holy Saturday and we stood before the symbolic tomb of Jesus.
Called “Epitafio” in Greek, the symbolic tomb was covered with flowers.
Though the symbolic tomb was beautifully adorned from top to bottom with flowers, it still held a strong sense of death. Compared to the observance of other days in Holy Week, Saturday did feel like nothingness, stagnant, still, uncertain.
It mirrors real life, does it not . . . those times when we stand empty, without answers, filled with uncertainty, wrapped in nothingness.
But Sunday’s coming! Walking through Holy Week with spiritual awareness also carries us through our own messy lives and brings us closer to a true understanding of life, death and everything in between. The “nothingness” of Holy Saturday cannot compare with the hope of the rebirth and resurrection to come.