Our dear Holy Father is a very good writer. I managed to miss reading Deus Caritas Est when it came out last spring, and Sacramentum Caritatis as well. (Josh has plans for a CSC discussion group for the apostolic exhortation; we’ll see how that works out.) The only exposure I have to his work is through my Zenit feed, as I’ve written about before. I’d put off reading his urbi et orbi message and his Easter Vigil homily until tonight.
The homily is wonderful.
Let us return once more to the night of Holy Saturday. In the Creed we say about Christ’s journey that he “descended into hell.” What happened then? Since we have no knowledge of the world of death, we can only imagine his triumph over death with the help of images which remain very inadequate. Yet, inadequate as they are, they can help us to understand something of the mystery. … In the incarnation, the Son of God became one with human beings—with Adam. But only at this moment, when he accomplishes the supreme act of love by descending into the night of death, does he bring the journey of the incarnation to its completion. By his death he now clasps the hand of Adam, of every man and woman who awaits him, and brings them to the light.
I’ve always had trouble with that aspect of the creeds (Apostle’s and Nicene). It was a long time before I understood that “hell” in Christ’s time didn’t mean eternal damnation. No one was allowed into heaven until Christ died and threw open its gates. On Holy Saturday, I was wondering what to do, since I refused to do homework at all during the Triduum. I decided to try the LOTH’s Office of Readings. I think I did it wrong, but the important part was that I discovered the non-biblical reading. I read it aloud to myself, struggling to get to the end, and then I cried. Easter is all about Christ’s dying to save us, but never before had I read something that even attempted to describe that act of salvation. Praise God.