Saturday, April 19, 2014

Black Saturday

  • Holy Saturday is a commemoration of the day that Jesus Christ lay in the tomb after his death.
  • Holy Saturday is the final day of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter Triduum which are the three days (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) immediately preceding Easter Sunday.
  • It is referred to as Eastern Even (Easter Eve) among Anglicans and Filipinos refer to it as Black Saturday.
  • It is referred by the Eastern Orthodox Christians as The Great Sabbath because Jesus "rested" in the tomb on this day.
  • Holy Saturday was also known as Great or Grand Saturday, as well as the Angelic Night.
  • It is also known as Sábado de Gloria or "Saturday of [the] Gloria", a Spanish name coming from the fact that the Gloria is sung for the first time since Ash Wednesday during the Easter Vigil.
  • It is also known as the Easter Vigil which is a name more properly applied to the Mass on Holy Saturday night which starts by the lighting of the Paschal candle symbolizing people getting out of the darkness into the celebration of the Easter vigil. The candle is made of white wax and is marked with an alpha and an omega crosses (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet) symbolizing that Jesus Christ has, and always will be with humanity, and is with humanity now, according to Christian belief. The Easter Vigil ceremonies, the blessing of new fire and the lighting of the Easter candle were performed earlier and earlier which eventually were performed on Holy Saturday morning beginning eight century in the Middle Ages and it now became little more than an anticipation of the Easter Vigil. A reform of the Holy Week liturgies in 1956 returned the Easter Vigil ceremonies to originally to celebration of Mass after sundown on Holy Saturday. Also, on Holy Saturday the Eucharist is only given to the faithful as viaticum—that is, only to those in danger of death, to prepare their souls.
  • There is no Mass during Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil Mass that takes place after sundown on Holy Saturday is an Easter Sunday celebration, since liturgically, each day begins at sundown on the previous day. (That is why Saturday vigil Masses can fulfill our Sunday Duty.) Easter Vigil originated back to when Jesus’ followers spent the day waiting after his crucifixion on Good Friday and it is also known as the day when Roman governor Pontius Pilate instructed guards to be posted at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ followers from removing the body to claim that he had risen from the dead.
  • In the early Church it was the only Saturday on which fasting was permitted as noted in the Catholic Encyclopedia and some sources declared that during the first century CE and by second century, Christians observed a total fasting for 40 hours before Easter Sunday sunrise but a 1969 revision of the rules for fasting and abstinence, strict fasting and abstinence continued to be practiced on Holy Saturday morning leading to a reminder to the faithful about the sorrowful nature of Holy Saturday and that it is a preparation for the joy of Easter feast. 
  • Historically, it was a major day for baptisms in the early church wherein many Christians gathered on the afternoon of Holy Saturday to pray and to confer the Sacrament of Baptism on catechumens which are converts to Christianity who had spent Lent preparing to be received into the Church. As noted in the Catholic Encyclopedia, in the early Church, "Holy Saturday and the vigil of Pentecost were the only days on which baptism was administered."
  • Holy Saturday is known as Judas Day in Mexico where people burn effigies of Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and it is also known as White Saturday in Czech and there is a custom to rattle keys and burn out Judas by burning the last of the holy oil before the church door. 
  • There are also some early Christian legends recounting how the "Harrowing of Hell" occurred on this day wherein Jesus is supposed to have visited hell to rescue the many just and good non-Christians held there while his body lay in the tomb.
Harrowing of Hell © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / CC-BY-SA-3.0

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