Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday: Silence, Please

The Church marks Holy Saturday with silence.  We wait by the tomb for Jesus to rise.  Silence is elusive, challenging, and sometimes very hard to find.  During the three days of the Triduum, I try to catechize my people to observe solemn silence before and after the liturgies.  This is especially true on Good Friday when the Service of the Passion begins and ends in silence.  Last night, before I said the "Prayer Over the People" which concludes the liturgy, there was a hushed silence in a church that was packed with at least 1500 people.  So before we finished, I asked the people to observe that same silence as they walked out of the church.  It worked last year.  This year, as I was reading the second to last sentence of the final prayer, there was a big thud in the back of the church and some commotion.  I looked up briefly and noticed that someone had fainted.  It took me an extra five seconds to finish the prayer and then the ministers and I departed the sanctuary in silence while the back of the church was still murmuring over the man that had fainted.  The gentleman was fine, but everyone, God bless them, had to pass by and inquire how we was doing.  "So much for silence," I thought. 
Even this morning, it is difficult to find silence in any church as we prepare and decorate our churches for tonight's Easter Vigil.  Just sitting here in my office writing this mediation I was interrupted several times to check on one thing or the other.  "So much for silence."  Yet we must make time for silence this day as we prepare our hearts for what will happen tonight:  the Great Easter Vigil.  If you have never been to the Easter Vigil, I invite you to attend one in your parish.  It is a beautiful liturgy that consists of a Service of Light, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of Baptism (as we baptize 17 adults in my parish alone), and finally the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  This is the night in which our Savior rises from that silent tomb.  So until we gather in church this evening to light our candles and rejoice in the central mystery of our salvation, may we make time for silence to reflect on what has happened during this Holy Week and what is yet to come.