Holy Saturday: Keeping Vigil


Holy Saturday: Today is the day of Holy Waiting. We vigil tonight for the Resurrection of the Lord…

But what was Christ doing during the time His sacred body lay in death in the tomb?

He was visiting the dead and freeing them from the “limbo”, ( by which we mean the state of peace and happiness that was not yet the full vision of God ), that kept them from entering the fulness of Heaven until His death upon the Cross and triumphing over the power of the evil one: We call it the harrowing (harvesting) of hell and remember it in the creed with the words: He descended into hell… But what was it like for those holy men and women of all times and places to meet their Saviour for whom they had longed… this old poem describing that moment is a favourite of mine… may it bless you today as you vigil in hope for the Risen Lord.


The ancient greyness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before a wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said:
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”

A murmurous excitement stirred all souls.
they wondered if they dreamed-
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.

And Moses standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?

A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed

Or apple trees
All blossom-boughed.
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
With water
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas.
The one old man who had not stirred
Remembered home.

And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that He wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.

No canticle at all was sung.
None toned a psalm, or raising a greeting song,
A silent man alone
Of all that throng
Found tongue-
Not any other.
Close to His heart
When embrace was done,
Old Joseph said,
“How is your Mother,
How is your Mother, Son?”

-Sister Mary Ada