Remembering Holy Saturday: The Day We Embrace Doubt and Silence
In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the method through which they look at theology is called “apophatic theology”, which is contra Western style of theology in that it speaks silence towards God, who is, they say, in many ways, unspeakable. Cataphatic theology (the Western style), which is what almost all of us in America attempt to do, is the attempt to define God positively, which often involves definition and affirmation. In other words, our theology often involves many words, while their theology often invokes silence (thus their use of icons as means of meditation during silence).
Silence has been written out of the Western view of God.
Protestant and evangelicals not only like to speak about God, they also like to assert about God. Doubt it not a part of our paradigm; thus, when somebody begins to doubt aspects of Christianity, it’s looked down upon, whereas in some Christian traditions – especially Orthodox and in some cases Catholicism – doubt is an accepted form of worship.
Thus, Holy Saturday … the Holy Day where doubt and silence is the PROPER POSITION of worship.
In the Catholic and Orthodox tradition, Holy Saturday is the holy day between Good Friday and Easter. It’s a day when we attempt to understand what the disciples of Christ were feeling. A day when we put ourselves in their sandals.
A day when we try to understand, as the disciples had, the crucifixion WITHOUT the knowledge of the resurrection.
Chris Patton writes,
“It is a day full of question. What will become of his message? Was Jesus the messiah? How will life come from death? Does God really have the last word? Are the powers and principalities really in charge as their killing of Jesus seems to indicate? I can only try to imagine what the disciples were going through. This was not just a friend dying. The disciples’ view of the future, their hope for what was to come, a new way of life, all hinged on Jesus … maybe we should change the name from Holy Saturday to Doubting Saturday. I don’t think anything Holy was going on in the disciples’ mind. Fear, frustration, anger, depression – doubt must have been a hundred pound weight on their chest. (For a more expansive article on Holy Saturday, check out this link)
Holy Saturday is a day when the church belongs to the doubters. It’s a day when we as Western Christians should do two things we are very uncomfortable with: embrace doubt and silence.