Sabbatum Sanctum – Holy Saturday: “Watching” – The Easter Vigil of the Holy Night
On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on His suffering and death. The Altar is left bare and the Sacrifice of the Mass, is not celebrated. Only after the solemn Vigil during the night, held in anticipation of the Resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy which overflows into the following period of fifty days.
Holy Saturday (from Sabbatum Sanctum, its official liturgical name) is sacred as the day of the Lord’s rest; it has been called the “Second Sabbath” after creation. The day is and should be the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year, a day broken by no liturgical function. Christ lies in the grave, the Church sits near and mourns. After the great battle He is resting in peace but upon Him, we see the scars of intense suffering…The mortal wounds on His Body remain visible…J esus’ enemies are still furious, attempting to obliterate the very memory of the Lord by lies and slander.
Mary and the disciples are grief-stricken, while the Church must mournfully admit, that too many of her children return home from Calvary cold and hard of heart. When Mother Church reflects upon all of this, it seems as if the wounds of her dearly Beloved were again beginning to bleed.
The entire body of the Church is represented in Mary for she is the “credentium collectio universa” (Congregation for Divine Worship, Lettera circolare sulla preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali, 73). Thus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she waits near the Lord’s tomb, as she is represented in Christian tradition, is an icon of the Virgin Church keeping vigil at the Tomb of her Spouse while awaiting the celebration of His Resurrection.
The pious exercise of the Ora di Maria is inspired by this intuition of the relationship between the Virgin Mary and the Church – while the Body of her Son lies in the Tomb and His soul has descended to the dead ,to announce liberation, from the shadow of darkness ,to His ancestors, the Blessed Virgin Mary, foreshadowing and representing the Church, awaits, in faith, the victorious triumph of her Son over death. — Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy.