Holy Saturday is an odd, quiet day. Stuck between the agony of Good Friday and the joy of Easter Sunday, it is a day of middles and “alreadys but not yets”.
In many ways, Holy Saturday is a symbol for the Christian life.
As Christians, we live Holy Saturday.
1. Experientially, we live Holy Saturday.
I don’t spend most of my time in either agony or ecstasy — and I’m guessing you don’t either.
Instead, our days are filled with ordinary, seemingly insignificant things. We wake, eat, pray, work, sleep. We have little joys, like sunlight on a cold day, or little sorrows, like a pile of laundry that just won’t do itself.
They’re not really bad days or really good days, they’re just… middling.
2. Salvifically, we live Holy Saturday.
Good Friday, you could say, is our baptism. In baptism, we have died with Christ and our “old self was crucified with Him.” (Romans 6:6)
But we still wait the completion of our new life: our resurrection bodies. We still wait for our Easter Sunday. We “groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” (Romans 8:22-23)
The resurrection of the body isn’t an after-thought or bonus extra in Christianity. It is not an Easter egg in God’s software. Rather, salvation is for the New Creation. Until then, we are living our Holy Saturday, longing “to put on our heavenly dwelling… so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:2, 4)
3. Spiritually, we live Holy Saturday.
Not only our bodies but our souls wait. If Easter Sunday represents our bodily resurrection, it also represents our entry into the glory of heaven: our heavenly birthday. (This is why we celebrate the death of the saints, but it is really their true birthdays!)
In between our baptism and our rebirth into heaven, there is often a mighty struggle. Only by the grace of God, particularly through the sacraments, do we grow in holiness. We slowly learn put on the new self, “which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:10)
This is the Holy Saturday of our spiritual lives.
4. Cosmically too, we live Holy Saturday.
Saturday is of course the Jewish Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. Genesis tells us that God created all that is in six days. “And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.” (Genesis 2:2)
This has a far deeper meaning too. The Catechism explains that “these inspired words [from Genesis] are rich in profitable instruction.” (CCC 345) It continues,
In creation God laid a foundation and established laws that remain firm… For his part man must remain faithful to this foundation, and respect the laws which the Creator has written into it. (CCC #346)
The seventh day, the Sabbath, completes creation. Our task as Christians now is to remain faithful to this foundation: “to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11-13)
5. Finally, we live Holy Saturday in hope.
In a sense, everything I’ve written so far has been incomplete.
Yes, we live in the seventh and final day… but equally, “a new day has dawned: the day of Christ’s Resurrection.” (CCC #349) Yes, our bodies haven’t been raised yet… but the Resurrection of Christ is our proof and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is our guarantee that we will be raised with Him.
This promise is trustworthy. It is in this hope that we have been saved. In fact, St Paul is so confident in this hope that he writes that “God… raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” That’s past tense, people. Past Tense.
This is the final way we Christians live Holy Saturday: we live as people of hope.
Hope requires a darkness to be delivered from as much as a light to long for. It is the virtue of the middle: the stem that connects what is to what will be. Indeed, hope is always lived in the inbetween times, the middling times, the “already and not yet” times.
If the virtue of hope were a day, she’d have to be Holy Saturday.