Day of Holy Emptiness

Holy Saturday
April 8, 2023

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/040823.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we mark a Day of Holy Emptiness. The universe stands in stasis, balanced on the desperation of sorrow and the anguished hope for new life.

Our liturgy bids us to make vigil – to embrace the Darkness before the Light, to know its secrets, to face its fears, to listen for its hidden promise.


Our readings tells us that it is now, after Calvary, as it was in the Beginning, that all – even we – are being recreated in Christ:

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss,
while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

Then God said,
“Let there be light,” and there was light.
God saw how good the light was.
God then separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”
Thus evening came, and morning followed—the first day.


Outside my eastern window, the sky is still too dark to see the hearty Southern Magnolia that I know is only 30 feet away. Many years ago, it was gifted to the sisters in the hope of a northern blooming. And it has met that hope ever since.


Even though Southern Magnolias are evergreens, in spring, new leaves push off the old leaves – but not all at once.  Most deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall, but Southern Magnolias will drop the older leaves in the spring – every spring.

-from NatureHills.com

Yesterday, I walked under it very carefully because it had aggressively begun to push its old pods off in preparation for its own Easter.


On this Holy Saturday, as we quiet our souls with our resting Jesus, let us be like the faithful magnolia. Let us search out and release all that is no longer life-giving in our spirits. 

This is a time to let go of internal clutter – perhaps old angers, grudges, prejudices that inhibit our joy.

It is a time to be honest about the junk we substitute for nourishment in our spiritual lives. Take a snapshot of your leisure time — how much of it is spent with things that can bring you closer to God?


The tomb where Jesus’s Body lay was empty, but for him it was full of Easter promise. For this day only, we are invited to be there with him in the pregnant emptiness and to listen to God’s promise of new life for us.

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.

You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.

Psalm 16: 9-11

Poetry: Easter Night – Alice Meynell

All night had shout of men
And cry of woeful women filled his way;
Until that noon of sombre sky
On Friday, clamour and display smote him;
No solitude had He,
No silence, since Gethsemane.

Public was death;
But power, but Might,
But life again, but Victory,
Were hushed within the dead of night,
The shuttered dark, the secrecy.
And all alone, alone, alone,
He rose again behind the stone.

Music: Carlo Gesualdo: Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday – Third Nocturn

Some of you may be interested in the content of these Holy Saturday texts. Here is the information from Wikipedia.

Responsories of the third nocturn of Holy Saturday

The three readings of the third nocturn of Holy Saturday are Hebrews 9:11–14, 9:15–18 and 9:19–22.

Astiterunt reges terrae

Aestimatus sum

Sepulto Domino

Sixth of Poulenc’s Sept répons des ténèbres

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