Here is the prayer, reflection, and practice I led for Holy Saturday for my church. We have been doing videos for each day of Holy Week, going through our prayerbook liturgy for the day and offering some personal reflections. You can also find the audio version on our podcast.
The Father spoke one Word, which was his Son, and he speaks this Word in eternal silence, and in silence must be heard by the soul. Our greatest need is to be silent before this great God, for the only language he hears is the silent language of love.”
— from St. John of the Cross, Maxims on Love
Where are you, O God?
We are lost in the night; have you cast us from your presence?
Temptations surround us; their masks grin through the darkness.
We run from them, but which way should we go?
Where can we hide when all lies in shadow?
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our eyes are swollen from tears; our bones are cold with fear;
our souls have been broken—do you not hear, Lord?
Save us! According to your steadfast love, answer us!
Do not hide your face, but draw near and redeem us! Amen.
~ Silent Confession & Reflection ~
On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
— Luke 23.56
The reading today is the only verse that tells us what happened on this mysterious day, Holy Saturday. Today’s practice will have varying degrees of difficulty and depth, which may stretch you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
At its most basic, today’s practice is to spend at least 15-20 minutes in silence. In its easiest form (but still beneficial!), spend this time without music, reflecting on what it would feel like to be the disciples today having just watched Jesus die.
A more difficult task, but one that the church’s history has found incredibly meaningful, is to spend this time in absolute stillness and silence. No mental reflection on a theme. No breath prayer. No walking around or driving. No music. Just sit still in silence.
There is one more level at which this practice could be done, but it is one that should not be done lightly. In Scripture, God is silent on this day. For 5-10 minutes, press into that silence and divine absence. With courage, sit with and feel your deepest doubts about religion, God, Jesus, and Christianity. Assume they are true. Imagine yourself as one of the disciples who did not know Easter was coming. For them, their Lord was dead. What if God is indeed dead? What if we are fooling ourselves and there is nothing on the other side of this life? Really try and inhabit this mental and emotional space (as scary as it may be) until you feel a shift inside of you. Only then, at this point, when you tangibly feel that sense of loss, absence, and divine death, engage in the 15-20 minutes of absolute silence and stillness. Observe what happens in you and in the silence. Look inward to feel the Spirit in the silence of your own heart and soul. Is there a way that God may be known here, in the depths of doubt, silence, and absence?
When the time is up, turn on some music and do something restful and life-giving for yourself. And remember what the disciples on this day forgot: Jesus had promised he would rise, even before he died. Easter is coming.
For Families: As is age-appropriate, try and spend a few minutes of silence with your children. Or perhaps set aside time to do a task together as a family without speaking and with no music. If they can articulate it, ask them what silence feels like to them.