HOLY SATURDAY: A SATURDAY OF HOPE
Panjim-Goa: Holy Saturday (Latin: Sabbatum Sanctum), also known as the Great and Holy Saturday, the Great Sabbath, Hallelujah Saturday (in Portugal and Brazil), Saturday of the Gloria and Black Saturday (in the Philippines) or Easter Eve, and called “Joyous Saturday” or “the Saturday of Light” among the Coptic Christians, is the Saturday of Holy Week, the day after Good Friday. It is the day before the Feast of Easter and the last day of the Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter. Holy Saturday, also called Easter Vigil, Christian religious observance that ends the Lenten season. The observance commemorates the final day of Jesus’ death, which is traditionally associated with his triumphant descent into Sheol (the place of death). This year Holy Saturday is celebrated on Saturday, April 03, 2021.
Holy Saturday is the day in the Christian liturgical calendar that celebrates the 40-hour-long vigil that the followers of Jesus Christ held after his death and burial on Good Friday and before his resurrection on Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday is the last day of Lent and of the Holy Week, and the third day of the Easter Triduum, the three high holidays before Easter, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Holy Saturday is always the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The date of Easter is set by the Ecclesiastical Tables, constructed at the Ecumenical Council of Nicea (325 CE) as the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the spring equinox (with some adjustment for the Gregorian calendar).
The History of Celebrating Holy Saturday:
In the Roman Catholic Church, the altar remains stripped completely bare (following the Mass on Maundy Thursday). The celebration of the Sacraments is extremely limited: Holy communion is given only as Viaticum to the dying; while penance, anointing of the sick and baptism may be administered because they, like Viaticum, are helpful to ensuring salvation for the dying. In the second century AD, people kept an absolute fast for the entire 40-hour period between nightfall on Good Friday (recollecting the time Christ was removed from the cross and buried in the tomb) and dawn on Easter Sunday (when Christ was resurrected).
By Constantine’s realm in the fourth century AD, the night of the vigil of Easter began Saturday at dusk, with the lighting of the “new fire,” including a large number of lamps and candles and the paschal candle. The paschal candle is very large, made of beeswax and fixed in a great candlestick created for that purpose; it is still a significant part of Holy Saturday services.
The history of fasting on Holy Saturday has varied over the centuries. As the Catholic Encyclopaedia notes, “in the early Church, this was the only Saturday on which fasting was permitted.” Fasting is a sign of penance, but on Good Friday, Christ paid with his own blood the debt of his followers’ sins, and people, therefore, had nothing to repent. Thus, for many centuries, Christians regarded both Saturday and Sunday as days on which fasting was forbidden. That practice is still reflected in the Lenten disciplines of the Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, which lighten their fasts slightly on Saturdays and Sundays.
Easter Vigil Mass.
In the early church, Christians gathered on the afternoon of Holy Saturday to pray and to confer the Sacrament of Baptism on catechumens—converts to Christianity who had spent Lent preparing to be received into the Church. As the Catholic Encyclopaedia notes, in the early Church, “Holy Saturday and the vigil of Pentecost were the only days on which baptism was administered.” This vigil lasted through the night until dawn on Easter Sunday when the Alleluia was sung for the first time since the beginning of Lent, and the faithful—including the newly baptized—broke their 40-hour fast by receiving Communion.
In the Middle Ages, beginning roughly in the eighth century, the ceremonies of the Easter Vigil, especially the blessing of new fire and the lighting of the Easter candle, began to be performed earlier and earlier. Eventually, these ceremonies were performed on Holy Saturday morning. The whole of Holy Saturday, originally a day of mourning for the crucified Christ and of expectation of His Resurrection, now became little more than an anticipation of the Easter Vigil.
20th Century Reforms:
With the reform of the liturgies for Holy Week in 1956, those ceremonies were returned to the Easter Vigil itself, that is, to the Mass celebrated after sundown on Holy Saturday, and thus the original character of Holy Saturday was restored.
Until the revision of the rules for fasting and abstinence in 1969, strict fasting and abstinence continued to be practiced on the morning of Holy Saturday, thus reminding the faithful of the sorrowful nature of the day and preparing them for the joy of the Easter feast. While fasting and abstinence are no longer required on Holy Saturday morning, practicing these Lenten disciplines is still a good way to observe this sacred day.
As on Good Friday, the modern church offers no Mass for Holy Saturday. The Easter Vigil Mass, which takes place after sundown on Holy Saturday, properly belongs to Easter Sunday, since liturgically, each day begins at sundown on the previous day. That is why Saturday vigil Masses can fulfil parishioners’ Sunday obligation.
The modern Easter Vigil Mass often begins outside of the church near a charcoal brazier, representing the first vigil. The priest then leads the faithful into the church where the paschal candle is lit and the mass is held.
Other Christian Holy Saturdays:
Catholics aren’t the only Christian sect that celebrates the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. Here are a few of the main Christian sects in the world and how they observe the custom.
• Protestant churches such as Methodists and Lutherans and the United Church of Christ consider Holy Saturday as a day of contemplation between the Good Friday and Easter services—typically, no special services are held.
• Practicing Mormons (the Church of the Latter-Day Saints) hold a Vigil on Saturday night, during which people gather outside the church, make a fire pit and then light candles together before entering the church.
• Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate the Great and Holy Saturday, or the Blessed Sabbath, on which day some parishioners attend vespers and listen to the Liturgy of Saint Basil.
• Russian Orthodox churches celebrate Holy Saturday as part of the week-long Great and Holy Week, beginning Palm Sunday. Saturday is the last day of the fast, and celebrants break the fast and attend church services.
Holy Saturday reminds us that death is not the end but there is resurrection because Jesus was raised to life after his death.
Have a Peaceful Holy Saturday.
Fr Pratapananda Naik born in Kundapura after completion of B.Sc., B. Ph. , B.Ed. , B.Th., M.A. in Linguistics, PhD in Linguistics (Poona University) 1993, had joined the Society of Jesus, a Jesuit congregation on 28 June 1971. He had held many posts in TSKK as Administrator, Director, Jt Director, Managing Committee member, General Body Member, Editor of TSKK bulletin.
He is the author of many books, like – Rongit Songit Ed. (Konknni devotional hymns in Devanagari script); Ballkanchem Raz Ed. (Konknni lullabies in Kannada script) Mangalore; Raknno Prakashan; Jivitantlim Ghodditam (Konknni poems in Devanagari script); Kazule (Konknni poems in Devanagari script); Kanoddi Mati Konknni Kovi Ed. (Konknni poetry anthology transliterated from Kannada script into Devanagari script); Devanagari lipient Konknni borounche nem’; Sunnem Mazor Hasta (One act Konknni plays of C.F. D’Costa, transliterated from Kannada script into Devanagari script); Tornem Tornem Mornem (Konknni play of C.F. D’Costa, transliterated from Kannada script into Devanagari script);
Magirchem Magir (Konknni play of C.F.D’Costa, transliterated from Kannada script into Devanagari script); Sollavea Xekddeantlem Mhabharot Adi Porv Ed. (Old Konknni prose); Oxford Picture Dictionary: English-Konknni (in Nagari script); Amchi Bhas: 1 (I Standard Romi Konknni Primer); Zudas (Konknni one-act play: Kannada script); Isopacheo Kannio (Asope’s 100 Fables in Roman script); Modor Veronica (1823-1906)- a Biography of Mother Veronica, the founder of Apostolic Carmel Congregation in Kannada script;
He has written approximately 50 research articles in various Konknni books and Journals Raknno, Konkan Times, Vangddi, Amar Konknni, Sôd and Konknni Vixvokox. And also composed over two hundred poems published in various Konknni journals. Has given numerous Radio talks, poetry recitation, interviews, panel discussion on All India Radio, Panaji and Mangalore stations. Has released many audio cassettes, CDs and DVD’s.
Fr Pratap Naik SJ is a recipient of many awards, like Divo Award 2004 from Divo Konknni Weekly, Mumbai; Dalgado Sahitya Puroskar from Dalgado Konknni Akademi, Goa, among many others. He is a Life Member of Raknno, Mangalore; Konknni Bhasha Mandal, Goa; Indian Linguistic Association, Pune; International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, Trivandrum; Panchakadayi, Manipal; Marathi Abhyas Patrika, Pune; Karnataka Konknni Writers’ Forum, Mangalore; Dalgado Konknni Akademi, Goa; Okhil Bharat Konknni Lekhok Songhotton.
His social service activities since 1975, including helping friends, has financially helped numerous students to complete High School and undergraduate studies; Partially supporting financially poor families; Built houses for the poor families; Counseling and guidance to students, youth and adults. Presently he is residing at Loyola Hall, Miramar, Panaji