OC 085 Holy Saturday Trivia and Catechism

Blessed Holy Saturday! Christ is in His tomb. Rather, His Body is in the tomb, but when His Soul left His Body, He descended into Hell to “free the captives.” “Hell” here refers to the place of the dead in general (“Sheol” in the Hebrew, or “Hades” in the Greek), not to the place of torment with which the word “Hell” is most usually associated with today. The world “Hell” in the loosest, earliest sense includes:Painting of the harrowing of Hell, by Hans Mielich

  • the Limbo of the Fathers, the place for those who were righteous by charity and faith in the coming Messias and who died before His Coming

  • the Limbo of Infants, where, possibly, those who are sent who die without personal guilt but without Baptism after the time of Christ, or who died without charity and faith in the coming Messias before the time of Christ. This would be a place of beautiful, natural happiness, no punishment, and no sensible suffering.

  • Purgatory, where righteous people go to be cleansed of the temporal effects of their sins

  • Gehenna, the “Hell of the Lost,” the eternal place of punishment for the damned, the place we usually refer to as simply “Hell” today

It was to the Limbo of the Fathers that Christ descended, a place of the dead that was emptied through His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, and no longer exists. By this “Harrowing of Hell,” as His Descent is sometimes called, the doors to Heaven were swung open so that those who die in a state of grace may enter in, alleluia! Adam, Eve, Noe, Abraham, Moses, the good thief on the cross — all the righteous were illuminated by the Presence of Christ in the place of death, making Sheol itself a paradise. They remained there with Him until His Bodily Resurrection when the the “bars of Hell” were broken down and they were later able to enter into Heaven itself with His glorious Ascension.

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began… ..He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him — He who is both their God and the son of Eve.. “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son… …I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.” [Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR]

Because of this great silence, today there will be no Mass (until the Vigil Mass tonight, which technically is Easter); instead, there is a solemn service. Today is traditionally a day of abstinence in addition to being a day of fasting, until the Vigil Mass, when the Lenten Fast ends. Though this fasting requirement was abolished in the new Code of Canon Law, traditional Catholics follow the traditional practice. In some churches today, priests will bless Easter baskets containing the foods eaten tomorrow (in other places, the baskets will be blessed after the liturgy tomorrow). Baskets bearing Easter bread, Easter eggs, meats, butter, horseradish, and salt are brought to church, blessed, and taken home to await the great feast tomorrow.

As said, in the evening — very late in the evening — there will be a true Mass, the Vigil Mass that begins Easter — a most joyous Mass during which Catechumens are baptized into the Church (neither the Creed nor Offertory are said) and the alleluia returns. This is a Mass that must be experienced! It is a very long service, but so beautiful, and when it is finished, Easter is here and the somberness that began on Good Friday is over; candles may be relit at home, music can be restored to the house.In some places, a ceremony is made of having a mock funeral for Lent on this day after the Vigil. In Poland, for example, a real or wooden herring is “mourned” and buried in a “good riddance!” gesture that acknowledges the end of Lent and the return of feasting! 1 In other places, Judas is burned in effigy — often life-sized — in these Easter fires or is blown up by pyrotechnics, as in some parts of Mexico! On a purely natural level (and though this isn’t a “Catholic custom” per se), it might be a reassuring practice for families to write down their cares, problems, bad memories, past hurts, and such, and toss them into the flames, too.

Also, parishes and families who’ve literally “buried the alleluia” on Septuagesima Sunday now dig it up again.  As to foods, a fun cookie to make tonight to eat tomorrow morning are Resurrection Cookies, a cookie that will help your children get a “hands-on” Bible lesson. Below is the recipe as taken from the Internet and “Catholicized”:

Resurrection Cookies
1 cup whole pecans 
1 tsp vinegar, plus some for your children to taste
3 egg whites 
pinch salt, plus some for your children to taste
1 cup sugar, plus some for your children to taste

Tools: rolling pin or wooden spoon, plastic baggie with a zipper-lock, scotch tape, Douay-Rheims Bible

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. (this is important – don’t wait until you are halfway done with the recipe!) Place pecans in the plastic baggie and let children beat them with a rolling pin or wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3: “And they came to him, and said: Hail, king of the Jews; and they gave him blows.”

Let each child smell and taste some vinegar. Put vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross He was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30. “Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and hyssop, put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.”

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep.”

Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand. Let them taste it as you put the tsp. salt into the bowl and explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27 “And there followed him a great multitude of people, and of women, who bewailed and lamented him.”

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaias 1:18, ” And then come, and accuse me, saith the Lord: if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow: and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool.”

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add the sugar to the egg whites, and give some for your children to taste. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalm 33:9 (34:8 in Bibles with Masoretic numbering) and John 3:16. “O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet: blessed is the man that hopeth in him… …For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.”

Then read John 3:1-3, “And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night, and said to him: Rabbi, we know that thou art come a teacher from God; for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him.” Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet (do not use a baking stone!). Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid.

Read Mathew 27:57-60 “And when it was evening, there came a certain rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate, and asked the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded that the body should be delivered. And Joseph taking the body, wrapped it up in a clean linen cloth. And laid it in his own new monument, which he had hewed out in a rock. And he rolled a great stone to the door of the monument, and went his way.”

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed.
Read Matthew 27:65-66 “Pilate saith to them: You have a guard; go, guard it as you know. And they departing, made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting guards.”

GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.

Read John 16:20-22 “Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. So also you now indeed have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you.”

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.

 

Read Matthew 28:1-9 “And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men. And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid. And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen: and behold he will go before you into Galilee; there you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you. And they went out quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, running to tell his disciples. And behold Jesus met them, saying: All hail. But they came up and took hold of his feet, and adored him.”


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