Today is a bittersweet day. On the one hand, the Church commemorates the fact that Christ died and was buried. One the other hand, we already know how the stories ends. On Holy and Great Saturday the Church commemorates the Descent into Hades by our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. While in Hades, He raised up Adam and Eve from death. It is a day to celebrate, but still a day of strict fasting.
In the most ancient of Holy Traditions, almost every Orthodox Christian has been fasting strictly at least since the service of the Passion of Christ. This three-day fasting parallels the three days Christ spent in Hades. Almost immediately, once the icon of the burials (Epitaphios) was placed in the tomb yesterday, the Church began to celebrate, albeit slowly ramping up our celebrations.
Lights were turned on in the Church for the first time since Sunday. The dark purple color that has adorned the Altar and Icons in the Church has been changed to a brighter color. Even the hymns begin to take on a brighter tone. All this is leading up to tonight’s grand celebration of Holy Pascha.
Tonight we will gather in the Church, again dark, waiting for the Light of Christ. We will stand with anticipation and excitement as we wait for the Clergy to exit the Holy of Holies with their lit candles singing, “Come receive the Light from the Light that is never overtaken by night and glorify Christ Who is Risen from the dead.”
But until then, we fast.