Friday, 10 April 2009

Being in a Vacuum

It’s like being in a vacuum – waiting for the next bus to arrive; staring impatiently, restlessly, at the desktop for our computers to find the energy to respond to our hasty clicks. Nothing happening, nothing to do. We feel we must fill the emptiness of this vacuum. We even feel uncomfortable with the emptiness of silence, even when we’re busy doing something. To be at ease we must have background music.

This was brought home to me when I was working with some teenagers. While they were dancing to loud disco music one of them said she wanted to talk about a problem. When I suggested we should find somewhere quiet she insisted on being at the disco, where she would be at ease with background music. That was the environment in which she could relax, but not me! I was nearly deafened by the loud music, and I found it very difficult to concentrate.

Our impatience when nothing seems to be happening turned my mind to Holy Saturday. On the previous day, Good Friday, we’ve commemorated the high drama of the crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Probably our reactions were very mixed, swinging between horror at the brutal way Jesus was unjustly executed, to an enormous sense of gratitude that the Son of God was prepared to go to such lengths to rescue us from the consequences of sin.

But then, with his death his sufferings ended. He had achieved his purpose. He was laid to rest in the grave. There was the silence, the stillness of the grave, before Jesus rose to new life. Those who loved him and had followed him were left with their grief.

That still silence is reflected in the liturgy of Holy Saturday, when nothing dramatic happens. For me this empty period is very important. It responds to my need to have a special time to reflect on my deceased loved ones –time to relate their deaths to that of Christ crucified.

As I do so, I’m reminded that just as death didn’t put an end to Jesus, so, too, it doesn’t write the concluding chapter in the life-story of my loved ones. For Jesus and for them the best was yet to come.

On Holy Saturday my grief is filled with hope. And this is reflected in people being busy preparing the church for us to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. As we do so we rejoice that if we die with him to sin we will rise with him to share his glory in heaven.

I need the stillness of Holy Saturday to give me time to reflect on the greatest of all mysteries –life and death. Far from being morbid, my thoughts are filled with the hope, which the crucified and risen Lord has given me. If I’m to meet him in the celebration of the drama of his death and resurrection I need the quietness of Holy Saturday to give me space to think and pray about life and death –his, my loved ones, mine.

If I meet God in this way Holy Saturday is far from empty, and still less is it a waste, a marking of time.
Isidore O.P.

Peter ‘s reflections on ‘Momentous Ifs’ will be posted on Saturday evening, GMT.

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