Saturday, April 23, 2011
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of Your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with Him the coming of the third day, and rise with Him to newness of life; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Source: 1979 BCP p. 221).
The Harrowing of Hell
Painting: The Descent Into Hell by Tintorello (1568)
From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday:
"Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him - He who is both their God and son of Eve. . . . "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead."
Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 637: "In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven's gate for the just who had gone before him."