On Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, churches lie silent and empty. No sacraments of the Church may be celebrated on Holy Saturday. But it's not just a pause before the big celebration. Rather it's a pregnant silence. On Holy Saturday the Church recalls and ponders the words of the Apostles' Creed: "He descended into hell." The belief these words express is that Jesus, triumphant over death, first went to the depths of hell to bring out those who had died without any chance of receiving his grace. Then, starting with Adam, the first human being, he leads them to his Father in triumph. How relevant this is to us today. It would seem that we are more familiar than ever with the scope of hell: the ravages of war in Iraq; the miseries of psychosis; the helplessness of deep poverty; the evil manipulations of the human mind and genes. Yet from all of these Christ can deliver us. His rising from the dead, his descent into hell, his Easter triumph is the source of healing and forgiveness, of light and peace.
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