The Sound of Perfect Silence

The church is dark now. The altar is stripped and bare. Some are getting up and leaving in silence. Others remain kneeling, looking into the darkness. Holy Saturday is ahead, the most quiet day of the year. The silence of that silent night, holy night, the night when God was born was broken by the sounds of a baby, a mother’s words of comfort and angels in concert. Holy Saturday, by contrast, is the sound of prefect silence. Yesterday’s mockery, the good thief’s prayer, the cry of dereliction””all that is past now. Mary has dried her tears, and the whole creation is still, waiting for what will happen next.

Some say that on Holy Saturday Jesus went to hell in triumph, to free the souls long imprisoned there. Others say he descended into a death deeper than death, to embrace in his love even the damned. We do not know. Scripture, tradition and pious writings provide hints and speculations, but about this most silent day it is perhaps best to observe the silence. One day I expect he will tell us all about it. When we are able to understand what we cannot now even understand why we cannot understand.

–Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009)


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Theology

One comment on “The Sound of Perfect Silence

  1. USMA74 says:

    “The life of Jesus went as swift and straight as a thunderbolt,” wrote Chesterton, “almost in the manner of a military march; certainly in the manner of the quest of a hero moving to his achievement or his doom.”

    And in the most beautiful turn of events, the hunted becomes the Hunter indeed, as Jesus crucified – descends into hell personally, to demand the keys from Satan. What was that journey like? Far more than a twilight walk to a cottage. He faces a creature far more terrifying than anything you’ve met in your nightmares and Jesus makes Satan bend the knee. Then Jesus simply turns and walks back out again, leading a train of rescued captives with him.