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A Message from Fr. Nickolai

“There is a great silence on earth today.” The Divine Office for Holy Saturday includes this phrase, as part of a meditation on the hours Jesus “slept” in the tomb. It often occurred to me, in years past, how hard it was to keep the spirit of silence and reflection that ought to mark the Triduum — most things that were open on any Friday or Saturday would still be open. All the usual diversions — sports, movies, concerts — would still be available. And, as we’re now more profoundly aware, those weren’t bad things; we have to work, to care for our ordinary human needs.

This year is different, though. Many of the world’s people are having a kind of repose, or inactivity, imposed upon them, and are in the cave, bound with burial wrappings like Lazarus.

But while Christ’s Body was at rest, his spirit was active. Holy Saturday is the day of the “harrowing of hell,” when Jesus traveled in the underworld, setting free all the holy souls held captive since the Fall.

We too, even if hidden from all the world, as Jesus was hidden in the tomb, can do good for souls from our “cave” — through prayer and sacrifice, by extending ourselves to others. We are invited this year, in an unusual way, to enter into the tomb with him, to suffer patiently our confinement, however long it may last — for our own good and the good of others — and to look forward to the time he calls us forth, like Lazarus, into the light of the Resurrection.


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