Holy Saturday

April 11, 2020

Readings for Today

Holy Saturday seems to be an unimportant day for our religious life. However, Holy Saturday is of the utmost importance and of tremendous momentum for our faith and piety. There are two main messages of the day that we can prayerfully consider. 

One regards our death, the other our Mother Mary. First, the impact of Holy Saturday on our faith in life after death. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, truly died. His human soul separated from his human body, while both remained hypostatically united to his divine nature. In the Creed we profess that his soul descended to hell. This means that Jesus saved the just of the times before his coming and took them to Paradise. Some theologians have developed a theory, that, in our human death, both the body and the soul die. The human person as such, the “I”, is extinguished until the resurrection of all the dead. In other words, in the mind of these theologians we die, and the next thing we know, is that we rise from the dead and are called into the Universal Judgment. According to this theory, there is never a time between death and resurrection, in which the soul alone is with God. Holy Saturday teaches us that this theory is false. Today, Christ’s soul was separate from his body and went to save the souls of the just. 

Second, Mary: the holy women go to anoint the corpse of Jesus. We hear the full list of names of the women who go. Wouldn’t we suppose that his mother is the first among them? Not so. Mary does not go to the tomb. Why? Because she alone of all people, on this terrible day of passion and grief, did not lose the faith that Christ would rise from the dead. Mary, his mother, did not go to anoint her son’s body because she knew it was not necessary. Her faith never wavered, not even after the Cross. This faith of Mary is the reason why Saturday is traditionally dedicated to her. 


Monsignor Schlag
Director, John A. Ryan Institute;
Alan W. Moss Endowed Chair for Catholic Social Thought;
Professor of Catholic Studies and Ethics & Business Law