Holy Saturday. Would that every Saturday be! Every day. Today, these last few days, these coming Easter days are a chance to set things right, simply by orientating ourselves to God.
Simply. It’s not that simple, is it? There are responsibilities and distractions. There’s a whole world out there with its demands.
And yet it is. Pray for faith, and God will help. Let Him in. He wants to help. We stand as obstacles. And the world needs the love and mercy of God.
We need it.
The Magnificat Year of Faith Companion on Good Friday included a meditation from Magnificat’s editor Fr. Peter John Cameron on the seven last words of Christ, from the perspective of faith. It’s a magnificent walk-through in its profound simplicity and order:
“Father forgive them.” Lord, Jesus, your dying wish for my forgiveness reveals the depths of your love. Deepen my belief in your love, and give me the faith that moves me to rise above my sins.
“…with me in Paradise.” Lord Jesus, even when I see the worst in me, my longing is for you. Faith is recognizing that I need to be given something. Please give me what I do not deserve — paradise with you.
“Behold your Mother” Lord Jesus, the gift of your Mother enables me to look at everything with our Lady’s own eyes of faith. Fill me with the same trust and confidence with which Mary stands at your cross.
“My God, why have you forsaken me?” Lord Jesus, even in this plea you reveal that you are not alone, for you call out to your Father. Bless me with a faith that keeps me certain and close to you in my times of suffering.
“I thirst.” Lord Jesus, you thirst for me to receive the love that pours forth from your pierced side. Always renew in me the work of faith: believing that there is nothing higher or greater than this absolute love.
“It is finished.” Lord Jesus, until the last moment of your life you fulfilled your Father’s will to love those he had given. Give me the obedience of faith to spend my life in devoted service to God.
“I commend my spirit.” Lord Jesus, you handed yourself over to the Father in a perfect gift of self. Bless me with a faith that liberates me from my preoccupation with self and makes my life one of loving self-surrender to you. I want to live for you.
That’s a prayer, now, isn’t it? For every day.
Pope Benedict taught us about Holy Saturday:
Christ strode through the gate of our final loneliness; in his Passion he went down into the abyss of our abandonment. Where no voice can reach us any longer, there is he. Hell is thereby overcome, or, to be more accurate, death, which was previously hell, is hell no longer. Neither is the same any longer because there is life in the midst of death, because love dwells in it.
We live in a lonely day where true love can be foreign to our lives — true, generous, self-sacrifical love, seeking the good for another. The world need to know that real Love exists and He died for us. You and I, we need to truly know this, encounter this Love daily, live in Him, share Him.
In its Holy Saturday medidation, Magnificat includes this from Monsignor Luigi Giussani:
Christ, alone, died to call the world back to the fact of the Father; thus, no matter how few we are, we are called to this task to call the world back…. During the night of Holy Saturday, the fact occurred that saves human existence from the confused tremble to which it could seem destined and lifts it up towards a festive task….
Reality is already in the hands of the one who conquered it, who won it back to himself. All of reality is his creation, to the point that the meaning of all of reality is his person. In him everything consists. To us falls the task to show it to everyone, to declare it, because it is something that is.
We are not meaningless pieces, our life is not a game! What has begun in our life is a construction…. It is the relationship with the Mystery, the relationship with destiny, the relationship with happiness that makes us radically original, like a totally different world, in this world. That everything should come together in a unity without confusion, in a harmony, in a song, in a symphony–this is truly another world….
On Holy Thursday night, in a chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was in repose — and in chapels like it throughout the world, we pray — I watched as people couldn’t leave. I couldn’t start interviewing people to ask why, for obvious reasons. But here is my suspicion: Because He is the only peace in the world, the only real order in life, the hope and the Way. The answer to all we are longing for. And while we are never without Him, He is always knocking at our door — and if we receive Him daily in the Eucharist as we can, we ourselves are tabernacles — there is something about being before Him in His Eucharistic Presence. It’s why Eucharistic adoration happens and works miracles in hearts. Because even when there is fog, there is a knowledge that this hope is real.
We have a Savior! And He is a Savior with scars.
As Archbishop Fulton Sheen (a lover of holy hours of Eucharistic adoration) wrote of that scarred Christ.
He is not only man but God; if He is not a teacher of humanitarian ethics, but a Redeemer; if He can take the worst this world has to offer and then by the power of God rise above it; if He, the unarmed, can make war with no other weapon than goodness and pardon, so that slain has the gain, and they who would kill the foe lose the day, then who shall be without hope as the Risen Christ shows us His Hands and Side?
What do the Scars of Christ teach us? They teach us that life is a struggle: that our condition of a final resurrection is exactly the same as His; that unless there is a cross in our lives, there will never be an empty tomb; unless there is a Good Friday, there will never be an Easter Sunday; unless there is a crown of thorns, there will never be the halo of light; and unless we suffer with Him, we shall not rise with Him.
The scars are not only reminders that life is warfare but they are also pledges of victory in that war.
Think not … that the Jesus of the Scars and His victory over evil give us immunity from evil and woe, pain and sorrow, crucifixion and death. What He offers is not immunity from evil in the physical world, but a chance for forgiveness for sin in our souls. The final conquest of physical evil will come in the resurrection of the just. But He does teach a noble army of the world’s sufferers to bear the worst this life has to offer with courage and serenity ….
He walked this walk. And He walks with us.
As we enter into Easter, we pray with St. Paul:
What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? …. No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus Our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
May we live the lives of a people convinced, living daily in the love of the Christ who walks with us, who lets us rest in Him. Who knows. Who loves. Who forgives. We have a Father who loves us with a love we need and the world needs. We have to go to Him. If we don’t, what exactly does it mean when we say we are Christian? We lie. We can’t afford to be liars. Not if we believe this.
Go back to that prayer of faith, go back to the last words of Christ on the Cross. He is with us. He will bring us closer, if we just let Him.
When life is too much, take a Holy Saturday break. We are an Easter people, but “Stay a while with this day. Let your heart be broken by the unspeakably bad of this Friday we call good.” Remember how real it is.