Today a grave holds Him…

April 4, 2015

sealedtomb

Today a grave holds him
who holds creation in the palm of his hand.
A stone covers him
who covers with glory the heavens.
Life is asleep and hell trembles,
and Adam is freed from his chains.
Glory to your saving work,
by which you have done all things!
You have given us eternal rest,
Your holy resurrection from the dead.

— a matins hymn for Holy Saturday, from Orthodox Lent, Holy Week and Easter

***

Also, in searching for an image for this post, I came across the full homely divinity site’s page on Holy Saturday, including an ancient 8th c. Holy Saturday hymn by Saint John of Damascus:

Into the dim earth’s lowest parts descending,
And bursting by Thy might the infernal chain
That bound the prisoners, Thou, at three days’ ending,
As Jonah from the whale, hast risen again.

Thou brakest not the seal, Thy surety’s token,
Arising from the tomb Who left’st in birth
The portals of virginity unbroken,
Opening the gates of Heaven to sons of earth.

Thou, Sacrifice ineffable and living,
Didst to the Father by Thyself atone
As God eternal: resurrection giving
To Adam, general parent, by Thine own.

– John of Damascus, 8th Century, translated from Greek by John M. Neale in Hymns of the Eastern Church

art credit


Such wonderful words of HOPE for a Holy Saturday when we are grieving recent tragedies

April 4, 2015

Emily Gibson’s post for Holy Saturday at Barnstorming today deserves wide reading.  Her perspective is so good and needed in a world filled with terrorists and tragedies.  Here’s an excerpt:

So many killings in the last two weeks — needless, heartbreaking death at the hands of others — people abruptly wrenched from their routine lives, their families left with empty arms and filling eyes spilling endlessly with tears.

Such senseless tragedies, we say, recoiling and withdrawing as if we can close our ears to more bad news.  How to make sense of deaths that arise from the darkness found in every soul?

This is the day in between when nothing makes sense;  we are lost, hopeless, grieving.

Yet we are brought to our senses by this one Death, this premeditated killing, this senseless act that darkened the skies, shook the earth and tore down the curtained barriers to the Living Eternal God.
The worst has already happened, no matter how horrific are the events that fill the headlines.

Today we are in between, stumbling in the darkness but aware of hints of light, of buds, of life, of promised fruit to come.

The best has already happened.  Happening now even when we are oblivious.

We move through this day, doing what is possible even when it feels senseless.  Tomorrow it will all make sense: our hope brings us face to face with our God who only does the impossible.

Go read the full entry!


“We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death” – St. Ephrem of Edessa

April 4, 2015

originally posted by Fr. Al Kimel at Pontifications in April 2005

“We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death” – St. Ephrem of Edessa

*

Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but He in His turn treated death as a highroad for His own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means He would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying His cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross He summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.

Death slew Him by means of the body which He had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which He conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of His manhood, His godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.

Death could not devour our Lord unless He possessed a body, neither could hell swallow Him up unless He bore our flesh; and so He came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the body which He received from the Virgin; in it He invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strong-room and scattered all its treasure.

At length He came upon Eve, the mother of all the living. She was that vineyard whose enclosure her own hands had enabled death to violate, so that she could taste its fruit; thus the mother of all the living became the source of death for every living creature. But in her stead Mary grew up, a new vine in place of the old. Christ, the new life, dwelt within her. When death, with its customary impudence, came foraging for her mortal fruit, it encountered its own destruction in the hidden life that fruit contained. All unsuspecting, it swallowed Him up, and in so doing released life itself and set free a multitude of men.

He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up His cross above death’s all-consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognise the Lord whom no creature can resist.

We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to You who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed Your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.

Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before Him who offered His cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.

St Ephrem of Edessa


Holy Saturday around the Blogosphere 2015

April 4, 2015

These links are in fairly random order…, but represent some of the good resources that are being posted today for Holy Saturday.

Lent & Beyond Holy Saturday entries  (several new entries posted already… more to come later)

Ohio Anglican:  Collect and Scripture readings for Holy Saturday

Biola Lent Project:  Devotional for Holy Saturday

Kendall Harmon:  A Prayer for Holy Saturday (I)

Kendall Harmon: The Sound of Perfect Silence

Anglican Mainstream: Meditation for Holy Saturday

Archbishop Cramner blog: Easter Eve: dead, buried, bereft

Trinity School for Ministry:  Holy Saturday Devotional

Godspace:  Even Resurrection Pauses For Sabbath Rest

Desiring God: He Descended into Hell? Holy Saturday

Prydain:  For Easter Eve: a reading from Augustine of Hippo

Give Us This Day (Fr. Charles Erlandson) – Easter Even – John 19:38-42

Emily Polis Gibson – Upon our Saviour’s Tomb, wherein never man was laid

Malcolm Guite – Check out his 14 Sonnets for the Stations of the Cross (especially sonnets 13 & 14)

Scotty Smith: A Prayer for Saturday of Holy Week

Patrick Comerford: Through Lent with Vaughan Williams (46): ‘Dona nobis pacem’ 6 ‘Dona nobis pacem’

Dean of Durham: Harrowing Hell: the significance of Easter Eve

Transfigurations:  Holy Saturday (Psalm 88)

Vicar’s Versicles: Holy Saturday – Meditate in Silence

A new poem from Teresa Roberts Johnson: To His Mother on Holy Saturday

Music for Holy Saturday:  I Called to God (Jonah 2:2-9) Patrick Schlabs

CT Magazine:  Sitting, Waiting, and Hoping in the Tomb of Jesus

Emily Polis Gibson:  Waiting in Hope, Brought to Our Senses

John Ortberg:  In between despair and joy

Cardiphonia:  The Canticle of Jonah for Holy Saturday.  (Also at Cardiphonia, check out several older entries including: Bruce Benedict’s original Holy Saturday hymn / poem:  “Death Tasted Hope in Christ’s last Breath,” and their compilation of Songs & Hyms for Holy Saturday)

Wow… I can’t ever remember seeing so many excellent and meaty reflections for Holy Saturday before…!  It’s been a blessing to have some time to read, reflect, and collate these devotionals and resources!

 


Henri Nouwen on Holy Saturday “The Day of God’s Solitude”

April 4, 2015

The following comes for a series of devotional reflections on the Stations of the Cross by Henri Nouwen.  This is excerpted from the meditation for Station 14:  Jesus is laid in the Grave – from Walk With Jesus

A young Salvadoran woman stands in front of the casket that holds the body of her cruelly executed husband.  She stands alone near the grave into which the casket will be lowered.  Her eyes are closed, her arms folded across her body.  She stands there barefoot, poor, empty. . . but very still.  A deep quiet surrounds her.  No shouts of grief, no cries of protest, no angry voices.  It seems as if this young widow is enveloped in a cloud of peace.  All is over, all is quiet, all is well.  Everything has been taken away from her, but the powers of greed and violence that robbed her of her lover can’t reach that deep solitude of her heart.  In the background stand her friends and neighbors.  They form a protective circle around her.  They honor and respect her solitude.  Some are silent; some whisper words of consolation; some try to explain to each other what happened; some embrace and cry.  But the woman stands there alone.  She understands something that the powers of death cannot understand.  There are a trust and confidence in her that are vastly more powerful than the weapons that killed her husband.  The solitude of the living and the solitude of the dead greet each other.

Joseph of Arimathea placed the body of Jesus “in a tomb which was hewn in stone and which had never held a body. . . .  Meanwhile, the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus were following behind.  They took note of the tomb and how the body had been laid.  Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.  And on the Sabbath day they rested. . . .” (Luke 23:53-56)

There was deep rest around the grave of Jesus.  On the seventh day, when the work of creation was completed, God rested.  “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he rested after all his work of creating,” (Genesis 2:3).  On the seventh day of the week of our redemption, when Jesus had fulfilled all he was sent by his Father to do, he rested in the tomb, and the women whose hearts were broken with grief rested with him.  Of all the days in history, Holy Saturday – the Saturday during which the body of Jesus lay in the tomb in silence and darkness behind the large stone that was rolled against its entrance, (Mark 15:46) – is the day of God’s solitude.  It is the day on which the whole creation waits in deep inner rest.

Read the whole entry here

 


“Life lock’d in death, heav’n in a shell!” – Henry Vaughan

April 4, 2015

This is a copy of a devotional originally posted by Fr. Al Kimel at Pontifications in 2005

*

LORD, when Thou didst Thyself undress,
Laying by Thy robes of glory,
To make us more, Thou wouldst be less,
And becam’st a woful story.

To put on clouds instead of light,
And clothe the morning-star with dust,
Was a translation of such height
As, but in Thee, was ne’er express’d.

Brave worms and earth! that thus could have
A God enclos’d within your cell,
Your Maker pent up in a grave,
Life lock’d in death, heav’n in a shell!

Ah, my dear Lord! what couldst thou spy
In this impure, rebellious clay,
That made Thee thus resolve to die
For those that kill Thee every day?

O what strange wonders could Thee move
To slight Thy precious blood, and breath?
Sure it was love, my Lord! for love
Is only stronger far than death!

Henry Vaughan


Links for Holy Saturday

April 4, 2015

Holy_Saturday

We’ve not traditionally blogged much on Holy Saturday, but here are some links to past entries and some good sites for those looking for prayers, music and devotionals.

All our Holy Saturday entries

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Resources & Compilations

Poems for Holy Saturday

NEW: Holy Saturday around the Blogosphere 2015

Holy Saturday around the blogosphere (2014)

Kendall Harmon’s wealth of Holy Saturday entries

Holy Week: Index of Holy Week devotionals, prayers, quotes and resources here at Lent & Beyond

A collection of fantastic Holy Week Devotions from the Pontifications blog from 2004

More Pontifications Lent, Holy Week & Easter Devotionals (from 2005)

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Quotes & Devotionals

NEW: Henri Nouwen on Holy Saturday “The Day of God’s Solitude”

NEW: “Life lock’d in death, heav’n in a shell!” – Henry Vaughan

Holy Saturday: Death has seized our Lord Jesus Christ; but shall not keep its hold on Life

WA Criswell: He is dead… He is dead… He is dead. Then, then then…

Lent Quotes: St. Cyril of Jerusalem – He vouchsafed salvation

Three Spiritual Classics for Holy Saturday (from the Pontifications blog archives)

A Homily from Saint Ephrem of Syria

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Music & Poems

Poems for Holy Saturday

Palestrina: Lamentations for Holy Saturday, performed by the Tallis Scholars

Classic CCM for Holy Saturday into Easter: Christian Stephens’ The Descent, and Arise

A Classic CCM Song for Holy Saturday – He Holds the Keys (Steve Green)


Trevin Wax: My Jesus – Dead

April 3, 2015

Trevin Wax has written an amazing poem /meditation for Good Friday.  I’m reproducing the whole entry here.  Thanks Trevin for such profound words. (I’ve also tagged this under Holy Saturday, since it makes a good Holy Saturday reflection as well.)

CarracciAnnibale-The-dead-Christ-c.1582-Stuttgart-Staatsga

Art Credit: Carracci,Annibale The dead Christ c 1582, Stuttgart Staatsga

And Jesus called out with a loud voice,
“Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.”
Saying this, He breathed His last. 
(Luke 23:46)

~~~~~

He is dead: this man from Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, the Lord of the world.

With His dying breaths, He spoke words of forgiveness, finality, and faith.

But now the breathing has ceased, and the lungs that exhaled forgiveness are deflated. My Jesus – dead.

The eyes that looked at the crowds with compassion are closed. My Jesus – dead.

The arms that reached out to the unworthy are lifeless. My Jesus – dead.

The hands that touched the leper are driven through with spikes. My Jesus – dead.

The ears that heard the cries of blind men are deaf. My Jesus – dead.

The lips that that told news of a kingdom are stilled. My Jesus – dead.

The voice that calmed the seas is silent. My Jesus – dead.

The feet that walked on water are stopped. My Jesus – dead.

The heart that bled for sinful humanity no longer beats. My Jesus – dead.

The Bread from heaven, broken on earth.

The Light of the world, in the shadow of death.

The Vine that bears fruit, withered and fallen.

The Gateway to God, now sealed in a tomb.

The Shepherd of souls, struck down by the sheep.

The resurrection and life, a crucified corpse.

My Jesus – dead.

~~~~~

He loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)


An Easter Homily from Saint Ephrem of Syria

April 26, 2014

An excerpt from an Easter homily by St. Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306-373).

Here’s the beginning:

Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but he in his turn treated death as a highroad for his own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means he would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying his cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross he summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.

Death slew him by means of the body which he had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which he conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of his manhood, his godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.

The full text is at Creedal Christian


Classic CCM for Holy Saturday into Easter: Christian Stephens’ The Descent, and Arise

April 19, 2014

This is the third of three posts with music from Christian Stephens’ self-titled album (1980, Creation records).

On Wednesday I posted 2 songs:  Look What You’ve Done, and Broken and Bleeding.  On Friday, I posted Song of the Cross which is the first part of a trilogy of songs for the Triduum.

Below follow the two additional songs:  The Descent and Arise.   You should listen to and read the lyrics from Song of the Cross before listening to the songs below.  As explained in yesterday’s entry, the songs imagine a dialogue between Jesus and the Father.

Here’s the audio file (the two songs are combined into one track).  The lyrics follow.

(The audio sometimes is slow to load, but it should play. Should there be a problem, use this link.)

 ***

The Descent
[S] = the Son, [F] = the Father

[S] O my Father, can You hear me call?
I need Your light, there’s darkness over all.
I ache to hear Your voice but remain here all alone
Father, when will I begin my journey home?

[F] O my Son, I know You cannot hear.
But I am coming, behold I am very near.
Hold to my words until You hear the trumpet call,
Then You my Son will rise the victor of all!

[S] I ache to hear Your voice, but remain here all alone
Father when will I begin my journey home?

***

Arise

[F] “Arise! And come to me my Son.
Arise! And come to me my Son!”

[S] Father, I feel Your touch of life from above
Lifting me by the power of Your love.
Hallelujah, I am alive again!
Hallelujah, I am alive again!
[Death] tried to hold me back,
tried to hold me down,
While the power of life lifts me off the ground.
Hallelujah, I am alive again!
Hallelujah, I am alive again!
Hallelujah, I am alive again!
Hallelujah, I am alive again!
And I have overcome!
Yes, I have overcome!
Yes, I have overcome!

***

HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH!!!

Note: the songs posted are digitized versions of my original vinyl album.  There are some scratches, etc.  I believe the album is out of print, but if anyone knows of a CD or digital version available for purchase, I would love to know so I can link it here and ensure royalties go to the artist.


Holy Saturday around the blogosphere

April 19, 2014

In addition to the incredible wealth of entries posted by Kendall Harmon at TitusOneNine today, which I’ve listed below, I want to highlight a few other excellent reflections for Holy Saturday which I highly recommend:

First, I want to draw attention to our list of Holy Saturday poems. 

(I’ve been astounded by the number of people searching for Holy Week poetry. Our compilation of Good Friday Poems got something like 7,000 page views in 2 weeks!!!  It’s heartening in this age of Twitter and SMS that many are still hungry for beautiful language and the thoughtful reflection of poetry!)

The other three entries I highly recommend:

If I find other noteworthy entries, I’ll update this…

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Note:  For those looking for Easter Resources…  I’ll begin posting some of our Easter Compilations (Easter Prayers, Easter Resources) around 4 p.m. Eastern US time  (20:00 GMT).


A Classic CCM Song for Holy Saturday – He Holds the Keys (Steve Green)

April 19, 2014

Steve Green performing his classic “He Holds the Keys” in concert in 1987.  The song appears on his 1984 album People Need the Lord.  I hear this song in my head whenever I see any iconography regarding Christ and the Harrowing of Hell….!

(scroll down below the icon to see Scriptures that tie in with the song and the painting…)

 harrowing-of-hell

art credit

Acts 2:24 – God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

1 Peter 3:18-19 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,

Colossians 2:13-15 – And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.


Kendall Harmon’s wealth of Holy Saturday entries (updated for 2015)

April 19, 2014

It’s worth linking all of these in one place:

From the Morning Scripture Readings

A Prayer for Holy Saturday (I)

An In-between Moment

In the End A Sort of Quietness

Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Truth of Holy Saturday: Only the wound is there

With this death which makes of the dead….dead human beings in all reality

The Transition

(RNS) What did Jesus do on Holy Saturday?

A Prayer for Holy Saturday (II)

Jesus Christ was Buried

Softer Quiet, Stunning Stillness

Eugene Peterson on Holy Saturday

Music for Holy Saturday: Let all mortal flesh keep silence from Somerville College, Oxford’s Choir

Mark Judge: The Day After

Upon our Saviour’s Tomb, wherein never man was laid.

George Weigel on Holy Saturday—The King is Sleeping

A Prayer for Holy Saturday (III)

God knows our dying From the Inside

Joel Garver on the 20th century’s greatest Theologian of Holy Saturday

We Simply Have to Wait

Andy Alexander S.J.: A Reflection for Holy Saturday

The Sound is Rarely Heard

In the silence of this night…we live in the hope of the dawn of the third day

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New Holy Saturday Entries at TitusOneNine for 2015
(CT) A. J. Swoboda—Sitting, Waiting, and Hoping in the Tomb of Jesus
A (Very Famous) ancient homily on Holy Saturday—“there is a great silence on earth today”
Easter Night
From the Morning Bible Readings
More Music for Holy Saturday—John Michael Talbot – ‘Only in God’
THE Holy Scripture Verse for Holy Saturday
The Sound of Perfect Silence

Poems for Holy Saturday

April 19, 2014

Here’s the section of Poems for Holy Saturday from our larger compilation of Poems for Holy Week.

5. Holy Saturday:


Three Spiritual Classics for Holy Saturday (from the Pontifications blog archives)

April 19, 2014

From the Internet Archive site:  A few classic posts from Fr. Al Kimel’s old blog Pontifications, of which, sadly, only a few files still remain accessible online:

There is a Great Silence on Earth Today

Death Swallowed Him, Not Knowing Him

Henceforth, Hell Belongs to Christ


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