The Church's Year
ON HOLY SATURDAY
this day called Holy Saturday?
Because on this day Jesus,
the Holy of holies, rested in the sepulchre, and because the Church
today blesses the new fire, the Easter candle, and the baptismal
fire struck anew, blessed, and the lamps and candles in the Church
lighted from it?
In ancient times it was customary
to strike a new fire every day, bless it, and light the candles
from it, and later this was done every Saturday; in the eleventh
century this ceremony was restricted to Holy Saturday. The fire
is struck from a stone to indicate, that Christ is the light of
the world, and the Stone which the Jews rejected has now become
the Corner stone of His Church; (Ps. CXVII. 22.) that the divine
Son, the light of the world, was apparently extinguished at His
death, but at His resurrection shone anew; that all those who witness
this ceremony today be spiritually enlightened hereafter. This fire
is blessed, because the Church blesses every thing that is used
for divine service, and because the light and fire represent Christ,
who brought the fire of love upon earth with which to enkindle our
hearts. Luke XII. 49.)
represented by the triple candle?
The triple candle represents
the most Holy Trinity of which the second Divine Person came down
upon the earth as the true light. For this reason the priest (or
deacon) sings at the lighting of each candle: Lumen Christi, Light
of Christ, and kneeling, three times humbly adores the Triune Deity,
and especially Christ the true, divine Light. The chanter responds
Deo gratias, Thanks be to God.
does the Easter candle signify?
It is an emblem of Christ
who has risen from death. Christ the true Light leads us from the
bondage of Satan into the freedom of the children of God as the
pillar of fire led the children of Israel out of the bondage of
Egypt. The five holes in the candle represent the five wounds of
Jesus by which mankind was healed, (I Pet. II. 24,) and the five
grains of frankincense signify the spices with which the body of
our Lord was embalmed.
are all the candles and lamps lighted from the triple candle?
To show that Christ was begotten
by the Father of Light from all eternity, and is therefore true
God from true God, true Light from true Light, from whom enlightenment
is diffused over all men. (II Cor. IV, 6.)
do the twelve prophecies refer which are read before the blessing
of the baptismal font?
They have reference to Christ
in whom the predictions contained therein were verified. The number
corresponds to the twelve apostles, who announced their fulfillment
to the world.
the baptismal water blessed with so many ceremonies, and what is
The baptismal water is blessed
with so many ceremonies that a different effects of baptism may
be shown, and that the holy Sacrament may be administered and received
with more reverence and devotion; it signifies the blood of Christ
by which our souls are purified.
is the meaning of these ceremonies?
The priest with his hand
parts the water in the form of the cross, to illustrate that God
gives to it the virtue of regenerating all those born in original
sin, making them children of God through Christ who died on the
cross. He touches the surface of the water with the palm of his
hand, to show that the Holy Ghost is over this water as at the creation,
and bestows many graces on those who are baptized. He blesses it,
signing it three times with the sign of the cross, because the water
receives its sin-cleansing power only through the sufferings and
the merits of Christ, from the Father, by the cooperation of the
Holy Ghost. The baptismal water is thrown by the priest towards
the four parts of the earth, because the grace of baptism should
reach all nations. The priest breathes on the water three times
in the form of a cross, as the Creator breathed into man the breath
of life; Christ breathed upon the apostles the divine Spirit who
by His grace and power revives and sanctifies those who are baptized.
The Easter candle, (emblem of Christ, risen from the dead) is dipped
three times into the water each time deeper, to show that the baptized
should become more and more enlightened through the light of Christ's
doctrine, more and more penetrated by, its divinity, more and more
purified from sin. The people are sprinkled with this water to remind
all those present who have received sanctification in baptism, and
have lost it by sin, that they should strive to regain it by true
repentance. Finally, oi1 and chrism are mixed with the water as
a sign that the grace of the Holy Ghost of which these are figures,
is given through the water to those who receive this Sacrament;
and also, that the baptized should, after baptism, devote themselves
to the service of Christ, the Anointed One, and unite themselves
in love to Him.
the baptismal water blessed only on this day and on the Saturday
Because in early times converts
were baptized only on these days; and because the risen Saviour
is the example of a soul sanctified by the Holy Ghost in baptism.
should we assist at the blessing of the baptismal water?
With sentiments of sincere
gratitude for the grace of baptism; with the firm resolution of
preserving our baptismal innocence, or if we have lost it, of gaining
it by penance. We should renew our baptismal vows especially on
this day by saying the apostle's creed, making acts of faith, hope,
love, and contrition; and renounce anew the devil, all his pride,
and all his suggestions.
the priest prostrate himself after blessing the baptismal water,
and rise again after the litany of the saints has been chanted?
To most humbly ask God, by
the intercession of the saints, that He would give to all men the
grace of baptism, that as all men have been dead and buried in sin,
so they may rise with Christ as new creatures to grace and eternal
are the altars decorated on this day?
Because the Church, the beloved
bride of Christ, desires to announce in advance to her children
the glad tidings, that the Lord has risen from the dead; she decorates
herself therefore, and causes the bells to peal and joyous hymns,
to resound. It also has reference to the glorious, incorruptible
body with which Christ adorned Himself at His Resurrection.
is there no Introit in this day's Mass?
The Introit of the Mass was
formerly an entire psalm which was sung while the people
were assembling in church; but as in early times the people on Easter
were already assembled to assist at the ceremonies, no Introit was
sung at the Mass. The Church observes the same practice, although
she abolished the night vigils on account of the abuses to which
they gave rise.
O God, who makest this most sacred night illustrious by the
glory of the Resurrection of our Lord, preserve in the new offspring
of Thy family the spirit of adoption, which Thou hast given them;
that being renewed in body and soul, they may serve Thee with purity
of heart. Thro' the same &c.
(Coloss. III. 1-4.) Brethren: If you be risen with Christ, seek
the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right
hand of God: mind the things that are above, not the things that
are on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hidden with
Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then
shall you appear with him in glory.
After the epistle the
priest sings three times: Alleluia as a joyful exclamation over
the Redeemer's triumphant victory.
St. Paul places Christ's, resurrection before us as the example
and, motive of the spiritual resurrection from sin, which should
be effected m us by the holy Sacraments at Easter. With Christ we
should die to the world, and live hidden in Him, if we desire to
rise at the Last Day with Him in glory, and be acknowledged before
all men by Him as His own.
(Matt. XXVIII, 1-7,) , In the end of the Sabbath, when it began
to dawn towards the first day of the week,came Mary Magdalen, and
the other Mary, to view the sepulchre. And behold there was
a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven:
and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance
was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him,
the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men. And
the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you: for I know
that you seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he is
risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid.
And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen: and behold,
he will go before you into Galilee; there you shall see him. Lo,
I have foretold it to you.
are we to learn from this gospel?
That we, too, will receive
the plenitude of divine grace and heavenly blessings, if like these
pious women we seek Christ early, that is, by making a , good intention
before we begin our work.
there no Credo or Agnus Dei said, nor the kiss of peace given, and
why are short vespers said after communion?
Formerly, the Credo or confession
of faith was said by the newly baptized, the Agnus Dei was sung
in the litany of .the saints, and these are therefore omitted in
the Mass. The kiss of peace is, not given, because Christ had not
yet said to His disciples, Peace be wit-h you. Short vespers are
said after the priest's communion, because this day, is a type of
the eternal Sabbath in heaven which has no vespers, that is, evening.
Do not omit on this day to
thank our Lord for the many graces He has given us through His passion
and death. If in the evening the solemn ceremonies of the resurrection
are held, assist at them and there make the repeated resolution
to rise from the sleep of sin and begin a new life with Christ.