What is Holy Saturday?


by Rev. Bernadette Cataline
Staff Chaplain

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and watched how Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb. Then they went to prepare some sweet smelling spices for his burial. But on the Sabbath, they rested, as the Law of Moses commands. Luke 23:55-56

Recently someone asked me, “What is Holy Saturday?” I replied, “It is a day of quiet reflection between the tragic events of Good Friday and the great joy of Easter.” However, I have a confession to make. Holy Saturday is anything but quiet for me. One of the first thoughts that come to my mind is that I have four services down and just two to go before I can join my family for Easter dinner and let someone else take care of things. The second thought is about how much I still need to do before that time.

It’s not that I haven’t planned the service or the sermon or the special touches that will elevate this worship service into something that will be (hopefully) memorable. No, the bulletins are printed and folded. The sermon, although not quite where I want it to be just yet, is pretty well formed. I have a lovely lantern, etched with butterflies, for the Lord’s Table. I even have chosen my outfit! (Yes, I still like to wear a nice outfit on Easter, albeit sans bonnet and prim white gloves!)

There’s just so much stuff to do! I have that chiropractor’s appointment and I have to go to the supermarket (it’s going to be a madhouse!) and then I have to cook for the Easter breakfast and take it to the church…wait a minute. This is not how to spend Holy Saturday.

This is a time of liminality, a transitional period, a space between. Think about the disciples and the women and Joseph of Arimathea. It is the day following the death of their beloved friend. They are fearful and grieving and have not a clue about what to do next and certainly not any idea of what awaits them the next morning. We have all been there. A loved one dies. Family and friends gather to console and recollect. We share a meal and then, we are alone, no longer doing anything related to the funeral but not able to start anything new. That’s what Holy Saturday should be like.

There is a problem though. We know what happens. We know the stone will be rolled away. We know the tomb will be empty. We know the risen Christ appears to the women and then the disciples. What do we do with that?

Well, somehow we must put that all aside and sink into that space between with those who did not know the rest of the story. It isn’t easy. We have 21st-century lives, not 1st-century ones. I plan to try to be as quiet in my soul as I possibly can. I will thank God for the healing that comes through my chiropractic adjustment. I will pray for all those children who are crying in the supermarket because it is way past nap time and they just want to go home and for their parents whose patience is all but gone. I will pray for those who are not at the supermarket because they cannot afford to be there. I will slip into that space between while I look for the sacred in the simplicity of putting together a breakfast casserole. I will remember the One who died so that I might live.

Have a very Holy Saturday.

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