St Francis of Assisi, Petts Wood

For it is in the giving that we receive.

Holy Saturday


 

Holy Saturday is the Saturday after Good Friday which is often, but wrongly, called Easter Saturday.

The idea behind the service is for faithful Christians to wait and watch, hopeful and confident that Christ will return at midnight.

A special candle called the Easter, or Paschal candle is lit during this service. 

The service traditionally begins outside the church, where the minister and some worshippers gather around a fire - a charcoal brazier is common.

After readings and prayers, the Paschal candle is lit from the fire using a taper, while a prayer is said

The lit candle is now a symbol of Christ, risen as the light of the world, and come into the midst of the people.

After being lit outside, the candle is carried into the church, where most of the worshippers are waiting in darkness, which symbolises the darkness of Christ's tomb.

After more prayers and readings, the candles held by the congregation are lit from the Paschal candle.

The readings at the service tell of the creation of humanity, how humanity fell from grace, and was repeatedly rescued by God. The readings remind people of God's promise to be with them always.

The Paschal candle is made of pure white wax and is marked with a cross, an Alpha, and an Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The 4 numbers of the year are marked between the arms. This symbolises that Christ has been, is now and always will be with humanity.

Paschal candles are usually very large and tall. For much of the year many churches stand the paschal candle near the font used for baptisms. Here it provides a reminder that baptism is a symbolic death and rebirth with Christ; just like Christ's own death and resurrection.