Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday 2009: "Principis , porta tollite; et introibit Rex Gloriae!"

Something I wrote in 1998: Proper names of places and people have been omitted for reasons of personal privacy.

From Part I - Easter Triduum 1965
Extract from Chapter I - First Call

'..........."Benedicite," the soft yet urgently penetrating voice was calling by each cell, waiting for the required "Deo Gratias" before moving on. No other words were said for, the Great Silence would not be broken until after Prime. It was five o'clock in the morning and still dark but soon would begin the daylight hours of Holy Saturday, "Harrow-Hell day", the longest, starkest and emptiest of the year.

'........Every year, in the light of early afternoon they would listen to a meditation on the descent of Christ into Hell. Today, it would be based on a relevant extract from Langland's poem, 'The Vision of Piers Plowman'.*

"And so," it would conclude, "we naturally feel the devastating bleakness of this day because Heaven and earth are beredt of Him. He has gone to complete the work of redemption, to plunder, to harrow Hell and release all those holy souls who passed from mortal life before Him. Therefore, as as evening approaches, we share their joy, the joy that inspires the poet here. Christ is speaking to Lucifer:

"Dukes of this dim place, at once undo
That Christ may come in, Son of the King of heaven!"
And with that breath, hell brake, and the bars of Belial,
For all the watch and the ward, wide went the gates.
Patriarchs and prophets, 'people that walked in darkness',
Sang the song of Saint John, 'Behold the Lamb of God'.
Lucifer dared not look, being by Light blinded,
And those that Our Lord loved, He lifted into light."

*William Langland c.1330-c.1400

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