So today is Holy Saturday, when the liturgical churches commemorate Christ’s descent into hell following his death on Good Friday. His underworld journey culminates in the bursting forth of the resurrection that we will commemorate tomorrow.
Yesterday I wrote, “When Christ died and journeyed through hell, it was as if he were threading the thread of Divine Love through the needle of the death experience.” In his “absence” from his disciples, he was performing a mighty act of salvation with cosmic implications.
How can we integrate this mythic truth into our lives today? The Christ story leads to his ascension into heaven and a promise of his eventual return. If the crucifixion led to a cosmic descent (with the Easter return), then this era we live in now — the time between the cosmic ascent and the eschatological return — is analogous to Holy Saturday; the entire era of the Christian community (basically, from now until the end of the world) is a sort of epochal “Holy Saturday” when we might struggle with experience of the absence of God (as articulated so profoundly by mystics like Pseudo-Dionysius and John of the Cross), but we can rest secure that, somehow, this experience of absence is cosmically linked with the threading of Divine Love throughout not only the hellish underworld, but indeed the entire universe.
The mystery of the Christian faith can be summarized in three short sentences:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Holy Saturday is the link between the first two sentences, and so the Holy Epoch in which we live today is the link between the last two.