Prayer for Holy Saturday

The University of St. Thomas Office of Mission provides daily seasonal reflections.  I was asked to provide the reflection for today, Holy Saturday.  Here is what I wrote:

Yesterday, Good Friday, we commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus. Tonight (for those of us attending Easter Vigils) or tomorrow morning, we will celebrate the Resurrection.

What about today? For many people, Holy Saturday is simply the day on which we ready the church for the Easter Vigil and do our shopping for the Easter feast.  I’d like to invite us to something more on this day.

In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius encourages us to take time in the space between Jesus’ death and His Resurrection, believing it is necessary for us to truly experience Jesus’ death and absence before we can fully appreciate the significance of His rising for us. The “tomb day” experience of the Spiritual Exercises is thus an invitation to envision a world without Jesus.

This is a lot more difficult for us than it was for Jesus’ disciples. For us, the progression from Good Friday to Easter Sunday is almost seamless. We live in a world infused with resurrection, so we never question it. The Resurrection is a given.

Do we really appreciate what we have? Do we have a sense of what life would be if Jesus did not rise on the third day?

The disciples did have a very real sense of this. For them, the death of Jesus was the end. Three years of following Jesus and it was all over. Imagine what they experienced! Fear – that everything Jesus had said and done ended at his death. Powerlessness – believing they had been abandoned by God. The finality of loss – as the stone was put in front of the tomb. Confusion – what would they do now?

Tomb day in the Spiritual Exercises invites us to get in touch with that sense of loss, to try to understand what it would mean to live in a world without Jesus.  Ignatius’ instruction for prayer during this day is to be with the disciples and with Mary in their grief over losing Jesus. To be with them as they take Jesus’ body off the cross, wash and anoint it, place it in the tomb, and watch the rock being rolled across the tomb’s entrance. To be with the other disciples afterwards, cowering in the upper room. One instruction for the tomb day experience says, “Let the effect of Jesus’ death permeate your whole being and the world around you for the whole day.”

I encourage you, amidst the preparation for your Easter celebrations, to take some time today to do exactly that: let Jesus’ death permeate your being; experience, as much as you are able, a world without Jesus.


One thought on “Prayer for Holy Saturday

  1. Is not the response, ‘You were there.’ to my lament during the 2014 Third Sunday of Lent homily. “Lord, if only You were here!” joined in ‘Spirit’ to Susan’s recommendation to “let Jesus’ death permeate your being; experience, as much as you are able, a world without Jesus?” For how many of God’s children does the sun’s (The Light) concealment at the moment of Jesus’s death remain as sin’s burden of darkness that many may never step out from under?

    How many pray “a Litany for the Season of Lent,” with words similar in response to the oft repeated litany of humankind’s weakness, brokenness, wastefulness, selfishness, sinfulness, etc. . . espoused from many a pulpit that attempts to continually confine most all of God’s children beneath the clouds of Jesus’ suffering and death? How many see Resurrection without mercy?. . .

    Lord, have mercy

    • I have attempted more often than not to love you with my whole heart and mind and strength:
    • I have attempted more often than not to love my neighbors as myself:
    • I have attempted more often than not to forgive others as I have been forgiven:
    • I have attempted more often than not to be less deaf to your call to serve, as Christ has served:
    • I have attempted more often than not to confess moments of my unfaithfulness, my pride, my hypocrisy, and my impatience:
    • I have attempted more often than not to confess my moments of envy of those more fortunate than me:
    • For my moments of intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and my moments of dishonesty in daily life and work:
    • For my moments of negligence in prayer and worship:
    • For my moments of blindness to human need and suffering, and my moments of indifference to injustice and cruelty:
    • For my moments of lack of charity toward my neighbors, for my moments of prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from me:
    • For my moments of waste and pollution of your creation, and my moments of lack of concern for those who will come after me:
    • Restore me, Lord, and let your moments of displeasure (anger) depart from me:
    • Afford me opportunities and provide me the grace and courage to continually attempt to accomplish the work of your creation:
    • By the cross and passion of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord:

    Are not our personal blemishes, shortcomings and transgressions a blessed gift – the Gift many call ‘Original sin’?

    The ‘fabric of life’ categorically described so beautifully in the original prayer above “a Litany for the Season of Lent,” joins each to the other, from our Lord’s day until today, in Jesus’ words expressed in the ‘Upper Room’ during the ‘Sacred Meal’ shared the night of His betrayal, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

    Six years ago this “tomb day” morning while pushing my grocery cart up an aisle at our local Rainbow, Terralyn (a middle aged cashier) said something inaudible to her customer, left her register, sought me out among the shelving, informed me her husband had undergone emergency quadruple bi-pass surgery the week before, remained in serious condition, informed me she was not very religious, and said, “Would you please pray for my husband and my family. I just know your prayers will help.” My embrace and whispered affirmative response was warm and lasting. . .

    Our Rainbow is no more, months ago remodeled into an upscale Lunds & Byerlys supermarket, and Terri now manages the small boutique restaurant within. A couple of months ago while ‘showing-off’ the subtle architectural niceties of her restaurant, and aware of my next stop (seeking sliced turkey breast) she walked with me to the deli next to the restaurant. I was introduced to Mayla, a younger woman Terri mentioned had emigrated from Bosnia while she playfully teased Mayla that I too was an emigrant (from Canada) – Mayla was patient, polite (appeared slightly distant) and sliced the turkey breast. . .

    Mayla had remained patient, polite, and yes slightly distant until earlier this month. Saturday morning March 5, I visited most all of my favorite grocery and retail marketplaces to personally thank everyone for the wonderful service each has always afforded me. Mayla was surprised and asked why her since we had only recently met? I shared that St. Perpetua’s feast day(s) were the next day, Sunday and the following Monday, and how the marketplace had become so special to Perpetua after her conversion to Christianity – and why each of my marketplace encounters are as special. I mentioned how each slice of deli meat and each slice of cheese I include in preparing meals reminds me of her hands (Mayla’s) and how the service she provides continues to connect me to all those who serve others and have served others since the beginning of time . . .

    At that moment, Mayla’s smile radiated, her eyes brightened, and her heart glowed with an energy as radiant, as warm and truly perceptible – a perceivable, spiritual connection that lowered somewhat her guarded barriers and shared a portion of her heart and self with me – a moment of spiritual connection that joins all, one to the other to the other, to the . . .

    Last evening, Holy Thursday, while reflecting upon the most sacred of ‘Meals’, I envisioned plate and cup, bread and wine set upon the most intricate crocheted doily table runner – the crocheted intricacy representing the fabric of life that joins generations together.

    I was returned to the spiritual energy experienced during my most recent encounter with Mayla. Mayla’s connectivity to her family, loved ones, friends, ancestors and others of all generations appeared as the most intricate crocheted doily – connected all, with medallion like detail representing the significance of relationships and encounters. As my telling of Perpetua’s loving heart opened Mayla’s heart, the doily of her spiritual life originally appearing as two dimensional – two dimensional and as infinite as the movie screen description and credits from Star Wars movies – was transformed into three dimensions.

    Touching her heart, touched the hearts of others and many ‘nodes’ of fabric joined – rose vertically as if proportionally representing (no matter how guarded our hearts have been) the love experienced and shared during that moment, during her life, during the lives of others, and during the lives of each of us – connected all are we, and so remain – one to the other . . .

    “We live in a world infused with resurrection, so we never question it. The Resurrection is a given.”

    As “powerlessness” may often surface and linger – and many days and nights are awash in “. . . believing they had (we have) been abandoned by God. The finality of loss – as the stone was put in front of the tomb. Confusion – what would they (we) do now?”

    “The Resurrection is a given.”

    A given most of us, more often than not, honor with our thoughts, words and actions – aware of our personal blemishes, shortcomings and transgressions as the Blessed Gift they are. For we are all connected one to the other – awaiting tomorrow’s invitation to answer Jesus’ call, “Come! There is work to be done.” “I am with you (all of you) always.”

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