Saturday, April 03, 2010

Stational Churches of Holy Week: Holy Saturday

Collecta at St. John Lateran

Today, we consider the historical occurrences in Rome which surround Holy Saturday and the catechumens, taken from Blessed Ildefonso Schuster's The Sacramentary:

...Mass was not celebrated on this day, as the whole Church was watching in devout expectation until the night should come in which the mystery of Christ's resurrection should be celebrated.

Early in the morning of Holy Saturday at the Lateran, the archdeacon, having melted some wax, mixed it with chrism, blessed it and poured it into various small oval moulds, on which was impressed the figure of the mystical Lamb of God. These Agnus Dei were afterwards distributed to the faithful at the Mass on Saturday in Albis, as tokens and mementos of the paschal solemnity.


According to the Ordines Romani, at the hour of Terce on Holy Saturday the catechumens assembled once more at the Lateran in the Basilica of the Saviour, the men standing in a line on the right-hand side and the women on the left. The priest began by tracing the sign of the cross on their foreheads, then, laying his hands on the head of each, he recited the exorcism, Nec te lateat, Satana, which still forms part of the baptismal ritual for adults. After commanding Satan to depart... touched the ears and the nostrils of the catechumens with saliva...

The moment in which the catechumens went down into the baptismal font was the decisive point of the fight, and, in imitation of the athletes of the stadium, who anointed themselves with oil before the contest, the Church also anointed her heroes with the blessed oil of the catechumens in order to prepare them for the struggle.

The solemn hour had now come. In reply to the question of the Pontiff, "Dost thou renounce Satan?" each of the candidates, with his forefinger, pointing towards the West, the region of sunset, of shadows, and nocturnal darkness, said: "I renounce thee, O Satan, with all thy pomps and with all thy works." Then, turning to the East, the neophyte uttered the sacred formula of his consecration: "To thee do I dedicate myself, O Light uncreated."

After the priest had again laid his hand on the catechumens and pronounced another exorcism, there followed the solemn ceremony of the redditio symboli, in which the candidates made their profession of the Christian faith according to the form previously explained to them by the Pope at the station in aperitione aurium at St. Paul on the Wednesday before Passion Sunday.

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