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March 26, 2016, Saturday – Holy Saturday

The Silence of the Lord

“In the hours of Holy Saturday, a great silence overtakes the Church. Our silence commemorates that God in Christ descended to where no human word is uttered or heard— the silence of the grave. Yet even in that silence God is speaking.

“In fact, the Eternal Word utters his loudest cry as he moves into death.

“He descends to the dead like a great warrior, every step he takes resounding like the waves breaking upon the shore and his every movement reverberating in time and eternity like an earthquake that shakes the foundations of creation. He calls out to the dead by name as he called forth Lazarus from the tomb: ‘Come forth.’

“On this day, in the silence of Holy Saturday, the Eternal Word spoke and death was transformed forever. No longer is death an end, but now by Christ’s command, a way that leads to him.

“In these last hours of the great silence of Holy Saturday, when the Eternal Word speaks in the hidden recesses of death, let all mortal flesh keep silent and in this silence, let us be attentive and listen.” —Fr. Steve Grunow, CEO of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries (link)

The silence of Holy Saturday is not the time for many words.

I write from Norcia, Italy, where the Benedictine monks at the birthplace of St. Benedict, the Patron Saint of Europe, are keeping their vigil in great solemnity.

In Rome, 5,000 special agents have been called into service to try to ensure a safe Easter against any act of terror or violence.

Last night, Pope Francis led the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. All proceeded in great peace.

The prayer of Pope Francis in his Via Crucis in memory of the final journey of Christ spoke of those innocent victims today of violence, who share in the suffering Christ suffered, “sisters and brothers killed, burned alive, slaughtered and beheaded with swords.”

St. John Paul II spoke often of the family. He called it “la chiesa domestica” — “the domestic Church.”

Pope Francis had a special prayer last night for the elderly “abandoned by their families” — as Christ was abandoned on Good Friday.

The cross of Jesus is also in those who neglect and forget the poor, he said, in those “fools who build warehouses to store treasures that perish, leaving Lazarus to starve on their doorsteps.”

He also spoke of “the good and righteous people who do good without seeking applause and the admiration of others,” of the “faithful and humble ministers that illuminate the darkness of our lives like candles.”

During the silence of Holy Saturday, let us think of those near to us, in our own families, in our own “domestic Church.”

It is a work of compassion to try to keep our families together, and to heal them, whatever the wounds that have been suffered.
Health of Emeritus Pope Benedict

A number of reports in the Italian press this week suggested that the health of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who will turn 89 in April, was precarious due to old age. The reports were so sensationalized, out of all proportion, that the prompted the Vatican to issue a statement to calm the waters.

The communique was entitled: “Health Condition of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.” Here is the text:

Regarding media reports on the condition of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and in response to numerous questions from journalists, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, Director of the Holy See Press Office has stated the following:

“The condition of Benedict XVI does not raise any particular concerns. Of course it is part of the effects of old age and a gradual, growing fragility of the physical condition as with any elderly person. His mind is perfectly lucid as we recently witnessed in his extraordinary interview with an Italian publication.”

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What is the glory of God?

“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.

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