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)


‘He Descended into Hell. . .’: Did Jesus Really Go To Hell?

In a Special Holy Saturday Podcast and Post over at The Sacred Page.

On Holy Saturday we meditate on one of the most obscure lines in the Apostles’ Creed: “he descended into hell.” What does this part of the Creed refer to? Is it biblical?

Moreover, what does it mean to say Christ “descended into hell”? Did he experience the torments of wicked?

Christ and the “Spirits in Prison”

In 1 Peter we read that Christ continued to save souls–even after his death.

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. (1 Peter 3:18–21)

According to this passage, after he died, Christ went to those who died in the flood judgment.

Where were these figures? The “hell of the damned”? Well, not quite.

Let’s look at this passage in light of ancient Judaism…

To continue, click here. The download is available at the bottom of the post. Well worth a listen today.


Good Friday

O my people, what have I done to thee? Or wherein have I afflicted thee?

Answer me.

Good Friday:

… (from the senses pious, holy of the word “good”), is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover…


Lord, by shedding his blood for for us, your Son, Jesus Christ, established the paschal mystery. In your goodness, make us holy and watch over us always. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.