The image shown below is of the altar stone in our chapel, only seen at this time of the Church’s year when the altar has been stripped after the Maundy Thursday liturgy.
In its starkness and simplicity it reflects the starkness of the tomb on Holy Saturday, when ‘The King sleeps’.
At Vigils, the patristic reading set for today is the unforgettable ‘Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday’. Here is an extract: ‘Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. … [Christ said:] I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you. Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity’.
May you know something of that great silence and stillness on this day, and may it be a prelude for a true and blessed Easter for you.