Saturday of Pascha
“Sabbatum in Albis Depositis”
The Lord brought forth His people with joy, alleluia:
and His chosen ones with gladness, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Give glory to the lord, and call upon His name:
declare His deeds among the gentiles (Ps 104:43, 1).
One Who Comes to Meet Us
Commenting on the Introit of the Mass, Father Maurice Zundel says:
The Introit greets us at the entrance of the Mass. It is like a triumphal arch at the head of a Roman road, a porch through which we approach the Mystery, a hand outstretched to a crying child, a beloved companion in the sorrow of exile. The Liturgy is not a formula. It is One who comes to meet us. (The Splendour of the Liturgy)
Toward the Heavenly Sanctuary
The Church gives us eight Introits for the Octave of Easter: one for each day. Each one is a mystic portal opening onto a particular facet of the Mystery and pointing us toward the heavenly sanctuary where, beyond the veil, Christ the Priest stands in glory before the Father.
Get On With It
Today’s Introit is but a single verse from Psalm 104. “The Lord brought forth His people with joy, alleluia: and His chosen ones with gladness, alleluia, alleluia” (Ps 104:43). The psalm refers to the Exodus. This verse, chosen by the Church for us today, is about getting out of Egypt. Father Ray Blake, a parish priest in Brighton, England, had an aunt whose motto was, “Pull yourself together and get on with it.” The Church is our Mother, not our aunt, but she is saying something very like what Father Blake’s aunt used to say.
Easter, or Pascha as the Church calls it in her official liturgical books, is about moving out and moving on. Out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Out of darkness into light. Out of sin into holiness. Out of decrepitude into vigor. Out of a pitiful self-absorption into fascination with the beauty of holiness that shines on the Face of Christ. Out of death into life.
The Illusion of Coziness
It is a strange thing that, when it comes to getting on with it spiritually, some of us drag our feet. There is something inside us that remains attached to that old life of bondage under Pharaoh in Egypt. We reminisce about the “bad old days” and our imagination twists them into the “good old days” that they never were. There is nothing worthy of nostalgia about living in sin, under sin, or with sin. One of the devil’s ploys is to make us feel comfortable in our sins. He likes nothing better than to appeal to our innate desire for feeling cozy, and he creates the illusion of coziness by using our sins. In this way, he suggests that we really need not move forward, that things are fine just as they are, and that those think otherwise are either fanatics or idealists.
Today’s Introit says that the Lord brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen ones with gladness. Joy because a new life was opening before them. Gladness because God had taken care of their enemies — a symbol of the old sins that pursue us — by sending them headlong into the churning waters of the Red Sea. Joy, because “the strife was o’er, the battle won.” Gladness because, as the Exultet puts it, we have been “restored to grace . . . and separated from the vices of the world and the darkness of sinners.”
What would prevent you from experiencing this joy and gladness? A secret attachment to sin. A hankering after things as the Old Self would have them be. A resistance to the costly change of heart that is the price of new life.