(The keeping watch for Our Lord, especially on Our Lord’s Sabbath Day of Rest, is our final action of love in free will of the “How” and “Why” we are to keep vigil in fear of the Lord. The mysteries of Christ’s incarnation, passion and death lead to this introduction of the Concluding and Post-Communion Rite in the Mass of the Faithful. By our blessing and adoration of the Eucharist in reposition, we ponder the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ while faithfully awaiting His promised return and reign in His Kingdom to Come of Eternal Life.)
Matthew 27:62-66. And the next day, which followed the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees came together to Pilate, saying: Sir, we have remembered, that that seducer said, while he was yet alive: After three days I will rise again. Command therefore the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day: lest perhaps his disciples come and steal him away, and say to the people: He is risen from the dead; and the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate saith to them: You have a guard; go, guard it as you know.
“‘By the grace of God’ Jesus tasted death ‘for every one.’ (Heb 2:9.) In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only ‘die for our sins’ (1 Cor 15:3.) but should also ‘taste death,’ experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb, (Cf. Jn 19:42.) reveals God’s great Sabbath rest (Cf. Heb 4:7-9.) after the fulfillment (Cf. Jn 19:30.) of man’s salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe (Cf. Col 1:18-20.)” (CCC, 624).
Our Father, 10 Hail Marys (contemplating the mystery), Glory Be and Fatima Prayer.
Excerpt from The Holy Family Rosary:
Matthew 24:42-51. “Watch ye therefore, because ye know not what hour your Lord will come. But know this ye, that if the goodman of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Wherefore be you also ready, because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come. Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season.
“Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come he shall find so doing. Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods. But if that evil servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long a coming: And shall begin to strike his fellow servants, and shall eat and drink with drunkards: The lord of that servant shall come in a day that he hopeth not, and at an hour that he knoweth not:
“And shall separate him, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
After the burial of Jesus’ Body, Our Lord’s work continues in vigil by His descent into hell for the salvation of souls and the resurrection of the dead. We are told that as we died with Christ, so too we will share in His Resurrection by “Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.” This is the final work for all of us before Our Lord’s return in prepared anticipation of His everlasting reign.
The vigil of the dead proceeds from Our Lord’s burial and descent into hell and becomes our Post Communion and Concluding Rite when we are sealed with a blessing and sent away (dismissed) in saying “Ite missa est” adding “alleluia, alleluia” on Easter Sunday to “love and serve the Lord” in safekeeping, being forever reminded to “guard” our faith.
The Pharisees can be seen as taking action to prevent this blessing in opposition to Jesus as we remember that Our Lord said: “Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost any one” by sealing and guarding the tomb so there could be no resurrection claims. In pride they sought to deny the righteousness of Jesus as the Christ, contrary to the prayers of the Apostles in the Upper Room. They broke the identical commandment of not working on the Sabbath that they accused Jesus of in condemnation, with much different intent. They confirm the words of Moses in their choice of curse instead of blessing and define His death instead of the sanctity of His life. Of this St. John Baptist de la Salle (1651-1719) said: “Nothing can be more dangerous than keeping wicked companions. They communicate the infection of their vices to all who associate with them.” Obviously, the opposite is true too!
In the Gospel of St. Luke (21:36) we are reminded to: “Watch ye, therefore, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to come, and to stand before the Son of man.”
This view was also a concern of St. Ignatius of Antioch (50-c.98-117) when saying: “Two possibilities are laid open to us at the same time: life and death – and each person will come to the end that befits him. Life and death are like types of coin, one belongs to God and the other to this world, each with its own hallmark: unbelievers deal in the currency of this world, and those who have remained faithful through love carry the coin of God the Father, which is marked with Jesus Christ. If we are not ready to die for Him or to imitate His passion, we will not have His life within us.”
St. Bernard (1090-1153) spoke of our concluding vigil in preparation of our own death and burial saying: “Listen to the words of Habakkuk: ‘I will take my stand to watch, and station myself on the tower, and look forth to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.’ We too, my beloved brothers, should be watchmen, for the day of battle has come. Let us enter into the depths of our hearts, where Christ lives and awaits us. May we refine our spirits and be prudent, never trusting to our own strengths, but concentrating on keeping our watch and weak guard.” It is in fruition of our holy obligation to “Watch ye, and pray…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak” that we witness the love of this meek and gentle Son of God as Son of Man and now willingly rejoice with these mysteries in proclaiming Jesus is truly Christ our Lord and King! Amen!
It was with certain finality that St. John wrote of in his Apocalyptic vision of what was to come when saying: “And he that sat on the throne, said: Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me: Write, for these words are most faithful and true.” It is now up to each of us, seeing truth within our purview, to determine what comes to pass, by whom we seek to follow, and in anticipation of our own death and burial, what we each decide to do.