Holy Saturday: A day of prayer, silence and reflection
Holy Saturday is a day of prayer, silence and reflection. It is the preparation for the celebration of the Easter Vigil.
Easter Vigil Mass
In the evening the celebration of the Easter Vigil takes place. This celebration has four important parts, the last of which is the Eucharistic Liturgy:
1. Service of light.
2. Liturgy of the Word.
3. Baptismal Liturgy.
4. Liturgy of the Eucharist
As to the Liturgy of Baptism, it was customary, during the first centuries of the Church, to baptize on the night of Holy Saturday, those who wanted to be Christians. They prepared for this during the forty days of Lent and accompanied by their godparents, that day they received the Baptism.
Also, that day those who did public penance for their faults and sins were admitted as members of the assembly.
Today, the Easter Vigil retains this meaning and allows us to renew our baptismal promises and approach the Church in a renewed spirit.
By Fr. Henry Vargas Holguin:
Holy Saturday is a day that has distinctive characteristics.
Today the Church refrains from celebrating the Eucharist, and sacred communion is only given to the faithful as viaticum – that is, only to those in danger of death, to prepare their souls for their journey to the next life. No sacrament is administered, except for the Anointing of the sick and the sacrament of Reconciliation; bells and musical instruments are silent; the cross without the Christ remains enthroned from the day before (hopefully illuminated and adorned with a purple cloth); the altar is stripped; the tabernacle will be open and empty; and the church lights off. Next to the cross, in an appropriate place, an image of the Lord in a tomb can be exposed for the veneration of the faithful, as well as the image of Our Lady of Sorrows – Mater Dolorosa.
It is advisable not to distort the Holy Sabbath with inappropriate celebrations (e.g. holy hours). Everything that is done on this day has to be sober.
On this day there is no official liturgical cult, it is a day of meditation and silence. We pray in silence to contemplate the mystery.
This is the only day of the year when the Church remains silent and in silence awaits to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord, in a more conscious way, in a deep inner worship. At least on Saturday morning, there should be an environment where there is no noise or dispersion.
But that Holy Saturday is a day of silence and emptiness, liturgically speaking, does not mean that it is a meaningless or null day. It is not a day when someone can say “today there is nothing to do” or “there is nothing going on here.”
Holy Saturday, as mentioned before, is day with no liturgy and officially the only thing the Church does focus on is the Liturgy of the Hours. On this day it is recommended that parish priests, wherever possible, pray Lauds in the morning with the community including the Office of Readings. When this cannot be done, some celebration of the Word could be done so as to ‘illuminate’ this day.