Most people don’t like Good Friday, not if they are being honest anyway. I, on the other hand, love Good Friday. It is the height of my liturgical year, the most important day on my radar. It is hard, of course, to re-live the death of Christ, but taking time to truly meditate upon and experience, in however small a way, what He went through is good. Good Friday challenges me to take stock of my life, my sin, and the ways that I continue to contribute to Christ being nailed to the cross. Good Friday is powerful, not only because of the sacrifice of Christ, but because of the ways it continues to challenge me, tug at my heart strings and invite me to be holier.
And then there is Holy Saturday. Holy Saturday is this day of utter emptiness on so many levels. The tabernacle is empty. Our hearts are emptied as we take in the weight of Christ’s death and the knowledge that our sins led to His crucifixion. The church is empty and closed – no daily Mass, no confessions, no rosaries being prayed. The parking lots are emptied and everything is solemn and quiet. We know, by the grace of God, that Easter and the glory of the Resurrection is just around the corner. But knowing that Easter is coming doesn’t take away the pain and the angst of Holy Saturday. The day in between the death and the resurrection often passes slowly. The anticipation of what is coming – the cries of Gloria and Alleluia – can’t overshadow the darkness of Good Friday. So it is that we are stuck in between, in between the pain and the joy, the agony and the glory, the despair and the hope.
Of course we need Holy Saturday. As sure as there can be no Easter Sunday without Good Friday, we need Holy Saturday too. We need Holy Saturday, the awkwardly long, liturgically empty day in between the darkness and the light. We need the day in between to truly let the weight of His sacrifice settle into our bones, our hearts and our souls. We need a day of liturgical nothingness to appreciate the beauty of the liturgy. We need the silence because it is in the silence that we hear God whisper beyond the pain and agony of Good Friday. Holy Saturday shouldn’t just be the forgotten, empty day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday should be the day of prayer, quiet, and reflection. It should be the day to rend our garments, to sit at the foot of the cross, pray outside the tomb, come face to face with our own role in the crucifixion and sit in awe of the God who would send His own Son to take on the punishment that is rightfully ours. Holy Saturday isn’t just the awkward day in between, it is the day to let it all sink in so that the joy of Easter may be even more profound.