Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil, March 27, 2016

Jeremiah, Chapter 42, Verse 11-16
11 Do not fear the king of Babylon, as you do now. Do not fear him—oracle of the LORD—for I am with you to save you, to rescue you from his power. 12 I will take pity on you, so that he will have pity on you and let you return to your land. 13 But if you keep saying, “We will not stay in this land,” thus disobeying the voice of the LORD, your God, 14 and saying, “No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we will not see war, nor hear the trumpet alarm, nor hunger for bread. There we will live!” 15 then listen to the word of the LORD, remnant of Judah: Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: If you are set on going to Egypt and settling down there once you arrive, 16 the sword you fear shall overtake you in the land of Egypt; the hunger you dread shall pursue you to Egypt and there you shall die.

Faith is always a great multiplier in overcoming odds take the story of Glen Cunningham who beat the odds to go on to compete at the Olympics.

Glenn Verniss Cunningham (August 4, 1909 – March 10, 1988) was an American distance runner and athlete considered by many the greatest American miler of all time. Cunningham was nicknamed the "Kansas Flyer", the "Elkhart Express" and the "Iron Horse of Kansas".

Cunningham's legs were very badly burned in an explosion caused when someone accidentally put gasoline instead of kerosene in the can at his schoolhouse when he was eight and his brother Floyd was thirteen. Floyd died in the fire. When the doctors recommended amputating Glenn's legs, he was so distressed his parents would not allow it. The doctors predicted he might never walk normally again. He had lost all the flesh on his knees and shins and all the toes on his left foot. Also, his transverse arch was practically destroyed. However, his great determination, coupled with hours upon hours of a new type of therapy, enabled him to gradually regain the ability to walk and to proceed to run. It was in the early summer of 1919 when he first tried to walk again, roughly two years after the accident. He had a positive attitude as well as a strong religious faith. His favorite Bible verse was Isaiah 40:31: "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."

He competed in both the 1932 Summer Olympics as well as the 1936 Summer Olympics. While on the ship traveling from the U.S. to Germany, he was voted "Most Popular Athlete" by his fellow Olympians.

In 1934, he set the world record for the mile run at 4:06.8, which stood for three years.[1]

Holy Saturday[2] We should have during the morning and afternoon, a mournful remembrance of our Lord in the tomb.

Why is this day called Holy Saturday? Because Jesus Christ, the Holy of holies, on this day rested in the grave, and because on this day the new fire and the baptismal water are blessed.

What is the new fire? It is the fire caught from the sparks of a flint, and then blessed by the priest, from which afterwards the candles and lamps in the church are lighted.

Why is this done, and what does it signify? The fire is first caught from a flint to indicate that Christ, the light of the world, though rejected by the Jews, is the real corner-stone, and, though seemingly extinguished in the grave, arose gloriously and sheds the beams of His blessed light on the world.

What is signified by the three candles, or triple candlestick? The Most Holy Trinity, one in the divine nature, but three in person.

Why are all the candles of the church lighted from the triple candle? To signify that all enlightening comes from the Most Holy Trinity.

What does the paschal or Easter candle signify? It represents Jesus Christ, Who died, but rose again, and now lives forever, the light of the world, giving light to all, and delivering us from the darkness of sin. The wax signifies His body, the wick His soul, the light His divinity. The five holes in the Easter candle, in the form of a cross, represent the five holy wounds which Christ retains for our consolation. The five grains of incense inserted therein signify the spices used in embalming the corpse of Our Savior.

What is the signification of the ceremonies used in blessing the baptismal water? They signify the different effects of Baptism.

Why does the priest pour out the baptismal water towards each of the four quarters of the globe? To indicate that as the four streams went forth from paradise to water the earth, so also, according to the command of Christ, shall the stream of grace, through holy Baptism, flow to all parts of the world for the washing away of sin.

What does it mean when the priest breathes three times upon the water? The breathing upon the water denotes the communication of the Holy Ghost.

What does it mean when the priest dips the Easter candle thrice into the baptismal water? The immersion and withdrawal of the candle from the water denote that it is sanctified by Christ to be a means through which the baptized are drawn out of the abyss of sin.

What is the meaning of the mixing of the holy oils with the consecrated water? The holy oils are mixed with the consecrated water partly to indicate the union of Christ with His people, and partly also to denote that the grace of the Holy Ghost, of which the holy oil and chrism are figures, together with faith, hope, and charity, is infused into the heart of the catechumen. ~No Christian should forget to-day to revisit the holy sepulcher, to thank Jesus for His passion and death, and to venerate the sorrowful Mother Mary.


Holy Water[3]

We begin in water; our human form in the amniotic sac, “bag of waters”, in the womb. In the order of nature birth begins when a mothers “water breaks.” So with water we begin our visits to church and we dip a hand into the holy water font and bless ourselves. When the world was lost to sin and needed cleansing and rebirth, God sent a great flood, and from the flood the family of Noah found new life. When Israel emerged from slavery as a unified nation, it first had to pass through the waters of the Red Sea. Though babies had always been born through “water,” now grown men and women could be “born of water and the Holy Spirit.” The Church Fathers taught that Jesus, by descending into the waters of the River Jordan, had sanctified the waters of the world, He made them living and life-giving, He made them a source of supernatural regeneration, refreshment and cleansing. St. Teresa of Avila wrote that “there is nothing the devils flee from more—without returning—than holy water.”







[2] Goffine’s Divine Instructions, 1896.
[3] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 1. Holy Water.

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