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Holy Saturday: the Forgotten Day of Holy Week in the West

by Anastasios Hudson on April 19th, 2014

Holy Saturday is a day that is under-emphasized in the Christian West. I am not suggesting that traditional Western Christianity does not have references to what we commemorate today, but rather that in the popular imagination and experience, it is not realized. As a child in the Lutheran Church, we always went to Church on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, but Saturday was not commemorated.

So what is it that we commemorate today? When Christ died on the Cross, His body was in the tomb, and His Divinity was with the Father in Heaven, but His all-blessed Soul descended into Hades, the realm of the dead, and destroyed the power of death. Before Christ’s Resurrection, all people went to Hades, whether good or bad (c.f. the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus), although their experiences were different. Christ descended there, destroyed death’s curse, and opened up the path to Heaven for all the Righteous of the Old Testament, and the saints of the New Testament era.

This was His Sabbath rest bodily, but His soul was active delivering the captives. Glory to Thee, O Lord!

Some Hymns for Today:

“Weep not for me, O Mother, beholding in the sepulcher the Son whom thou hast conceived without seed in thy womb. For I shall rise and shall be glorified, and as God I shall exalt in everlasting glory those who magnify thee with faith and love.”

“O Son without beginning, in ways surpassing nature was I blessed at Thy strange birth, for I was spared all travail. But now beholding Thee, my God, a lifeless corpse, I am pierced by the sword of bitter sorrow. But arise, that I may be magnified.”

“By mine own will the earth covers me, O Mother, but the gatekeepers of Hades tremble as they see me, clothed in the bloodstained garment of vengeance: for on the Cross as God have I struck down mine enemies, and I shall rise again and magnify thee.”

“Let the creation rejoice exceedingly, let all those born on earth be glad: for Hades, the enemy, has been despoiled. Ye women, come to meet me with sweet spices: for I am delivering Adam and Eve with all their offspring, and on the third day I shall rise again.”

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Another Important Hymn:
Great Moses mystically prefigured this present day when he said, ‘And God blessed the seventh day’. For this is the blessed Sabbath, this the day of rest on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all his works. Through the dispensation in accordance with death, he kept the Sabbath in the flesh, and, returning once again to what he was, through the Resurrection he has granted us eternal life, for he alone is good and loves mankind.

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