Praying on Holy Saturday

"The Crucifixion, with the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist Mourning" by Rogier van der Weyden (cropped)After the powerful days of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, knowing how to pray on Holy Saturday can feel a bit uncertain. Easter has not yet arrived, and yet the intensity of praying with the Passion has passed. Although surely there are practical things to do in order to get ready for Easter—clothes to press, a meal to prepare—skipping over Holy Saturday never feels quite right to me. At the same time, how to proceed prayerfully can be unclear. Until the Easter Vigil, there is no Mass to attend, although we can pray with the beautiful psalms of Morning Prayer from the Divine Office. It is an in-between time of waiting.

To the extent that we can share this sense of uncertainty over how to pray, we are probably right with the disciples. Jesus’ friends had undergone tremendous loss. They were suffering in the aftermath of trauma. At the same time, they had Jesus’ words of assurance that the temple of his body would be destroyed and raised up after three days (John 2:19). He told them that for a little while they would not see him, but after a little while longer, they would see him (John 16:16). Jesus gave them the Eucharist to share and the foot washing as a model of service to practice. He did not leave them without hope.

On Holy Saturday, we can imagine what Mary, John, and the others who had stood faithfully at the cross experienced. I often imagine Mary as exhausted and yet comforted. She has just witnessed the torture and death of her son. Yet she also has the other women and John, whom Jesus gave to her as mutual comfort and support. In some paintings of the Crucifixion, Mary faints and John is pictured catching her and holding her so that she does not fall down completely. This gift of Mary to John and John to Mary is often presented as Jesus’ gift of his mother to all of us, and rightly so. But there is another dimension. Just as the foot washing models how we are to love through service, Jesus gives us a model of love in times of loss and sorrow. We are to be one another’s support, holding, comforting, and encouraging. I imagine that this is what John and Mary did for one another, and for the others, on Holy Saturday.

One way to pray on Holy Saturday, then, is to imagine this time about which Scripture is silent. We can imagine what Mary, John, and the others did. We can imaginatively place ourselves in their midst. Where do we need comfort or encouragement? Or are we the ones who want to offer it to another? The disciples probably had a variety of reactions: perhaps a sense of failure or trauma, wondering what happened, but also perhaps faith, hope, courage, or trust that somehow God would make it better. Where are we in this story, right now, and how do we bring not only our own lives but also the lives of others in our wider communities into this story? We know that Easter is coming. When Easter arrives, what do we hope will be fulfilled?

Art: “The Crucifixion, with the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist Mourning” by Rogier van der Weyden (cropped)


  1. Thank you Marina. I woke up today not sure how to pray. it’s good to know that I am not the only one. Your reflection is perfect.

  2. Thank you for this powerfully expressed reflection.
    It is sunny and peaceful as I read this beautiful reflection. Holy Saturday is extremely significant for me. In 2004 I was received into the Roman Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. I had loved Jesus since early childhood and had been a pastor’s wife for almost forty years but when my spouse left, God had another plan for me. God led me to the Roman Catholic expression of the Christian faith and my gratitude overflows every single day! God led me through Good Friday to Easter Sunday in a very real way.

  3. Silence, the best way to feel God’s presence. Thank you for your guidance. I am Estela from México. Happy Easter

  4. In HOPE and TRUST…with my family and the whole wide family..let the risen Jesus , conquer our fears .let him be felt powerfully in our midst..let the poor and the oppressed get the help they need..let the pain of the people who suffered terribly this covid season be healed…let the church opens its heart and doors to everyone. let it be a place which Jesus dreamed it to be.

    Happy Easter .

  5. Thank you for this Marina.
    I joined my first Ignatian spirituality years and years back (I forgot the year), yet today I still remember the many changes that took place in my daily walks of life through using the guide. If I could draw all the visions that I saw in real scenario and the meaning if it all, as what God taught me, I would. But how could I put it all here?

  6. This is so extraordinary. My name is Meg, but I don’t think I joined your community in 2018. I just asked for guidance as to what to focus on today, and up popped your page, with comments addressed to me personally! Obviously there are hundreds of thousands of Megs world wide. I live in Spain, but, this coincidence has been beautiful. I live ( happily) alone on the edge of a tiny village, with my 2 hens and lovely Spanish neighbours ( a family if three ). I have always thought of my art as a path of devotion. Yesterday I heard Covid19 had arrived in our village. I completely trust J.29.11 so have a knowing everything is happening for us to learn more about God’s infinite Love for all of us. In my paintings I hope to inspire others with this faith, through the portal of beauty. Meg Robinson


  8. Meg, please be comforted that although you pray from home you are not praying alone. You are s very important member of the communion of saints to whom we all belong. No matter when or where we pray there are always other members of the body of Christ to whom we can join our pray. God bless, Barbara xx

  9. God Bless you and the work you do. Thank you for your insightful Reflections. It is Holy Saturday today (where I live) and I am feeling quite low; as I did not get to all the Services at Church, that I usually attend. Praying at home and via the Internet, is not the same, but I am hoping it helps,as I am using this method more theses days; as the body deteriorates. Happy & Holy Easter to all. A.M.D.G.

    • Prayers for you, Meg. Thanks for your kind words and for joining in this online community. If you have not already done so, you might ask your local parish if they come out for home visits to those not able to get to church. Blessings.


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