Black Saturday rites, Easter Vigil to be observed

By Christina Hermoso

Roman Catholics observe Black or Holy Saturday with traditional activities that had been passed on to generations of devout Filipino Catholics starting with the observance of the Day of the Entombed Christ (Santo Entierro) during the day and the Easter Vigil at night.

In churches across the country, the faithful traditionally offer prayers and light candles before the image of the Sacred Entombed Christ.

More elaborate rites are observed in some areas such as in Paete, Laguna, where the Santo Entierro is smoked several times over burning lanzones peelings. During the procession, the shoulder-borne ‘calandra’ makes several stops along the processional route, and is placed over a fire with the peelings of the fruit that is abundant in Laguna. A lone crier then shouts towards the bier, “Señor! Misericordia, Señor!” (“Lord! Mercy, Lord!”), to which devotees reply, “Misericordia, Señor!” (“Mercy, Lord!”).

In Lipa City, Batangas, the Santo Entierro funeral procession at midnight is traditionally very solemn and quiet. The image is interred in a chapel nearest the parish, simulating the Holy Sepulchre, and remains locked within until the Easter Vigil.

No masses will be held in all Catholic churches on Black Saturday, instead, the faithful are encouraged to venerate the image of the Santo Sepulcro (Christ lying in the tomb) as well as to reflect on the Seven Sorrows of Mary: The Prophecy of Simeon in the Temple, the Flight into Egypt, the Disappearance of the Child Jesus in the Temple, the Carrying of the Cross on Mount Calvary, the Crucifixion, the Taking Down from the Cross, and the Burial of Jesus. Meditations and reflections are focused on the passion and death of Christ, and His descent into hell before His glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Images inside churches will remain draped in purple. The administration of sacraments is severely limited. Holy Communion is given only as a viaticum or to a dying person.

The shift from mourning to joy begins at night with the observance of the Easter Vigil, the third and final day of the Paschal Triduum that began on Maundy Thursday.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will preside over the Easter Vigil mass at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila on Saturday at 8 p.m. At the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church), the mass is usually celebrated at 9 p.m. and because of the long liturgy, it lasts until midnight. After which, the “salubong” or the re-enactment of the reunion of the Blessed Mother and the risen Christ is held. The Paschal candle will be lighted during the mass to symbolize the dawning of the resurrection of Christ.

In Rome, Italy, Pope Francis will celebrate the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night at 8:30 p.m. at the Saint Peter’s Basilica. During this service, adults converted to Catholicism are officially received into the Church.

According to St. Cyril of Jerusalem, “The Easter Vigil, although celebrated at night, is always as bright as day, symbolic of the Risen Christ.” Marked by the symbolic unveiling of the images inside churches followed by the “salubong,” the Easter Vigil is a time of joy and is considered as the Mother of all Holy Vigils and the Great Service of Light.