Human life, Benedict XVI wrote in his memoirs, is a Holy Saturday. “We are still awaiting Easter,” he reflects. “We are not yet standing in the full light but walking toward it full of trust.”
The remark had a strong personal element — he was born (and baptized) on Holy Saturday and revered the work of Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, who expounded on the theological significance of the day — still, it rings with universal truth. Like the existentialism of Ecclesiastes, the theological basis yields something anyone of any background can understand. Some of us see in Easter the culmination of all things, “the joy of man’s desiring” (from the 10th and last movement of the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147, composed by Johann Sebastian Bach). Others see a paltry pastiche of ancient myths, one more in a long succession of stories constructed out of wishful thinking.
But all of us — each and every one — dwells in the darkness and silence of Holy Saturday, where “no one sees God.” It’s a day of separation, longing and wonder. The words of an ancient Holy Saturday homily might as well be inscribed on the bottom of every ocean and at the peak of every continent: “What is happening? Today, a great silence reigns on Earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great stillness because the King is asleep …”
Will he awaken? Will we awake with him at “the end of all our exploring”? Saturday we enter into the mystery of these questions — and prepare ourselves, to quote Wendell Berry, to “practice resurrection.”
Gregorian — The Sound of Silence
Matisyahu — Lord Raise Me Up
Dido & AR Rahman — If I Rise
Johnny Cash — Ain’t No Grave
Bellarive — Lazarus
Eddie Vedder — Rise
Mumford and Sons — Roll Away Your Stone
Matthew Becklo is a husband and father, amateur philosopher and cultural commentator at Aleteia and Word on Fire. His writing has been featured in First Things, The Dish and Real Clear Religion.