Category: Hard Times

What is Holy Saturday all about?

Betty blue bordered (2)

Have you ever asked yourself what Holy Saturday is all about? We know the gift of Good Friday – that Jesus suffered and died for us so that we can experience forgiveness now and joy with Him in Heaven. And we understand the gift of Easter – that Jesus rose from the dead, and so doing, conquered death’s hold over us so that we might rise again, too.

So what is the gift of Holy Saturday?

Imagine what the disciples must have felt like on Saturday. Surely on Friday they were numb and couldn’t believe what had happened. But Saturday came and they had to admit Jesus had died. All their hopes for a better life must have died with him. Jesus—who was so charismatic, so good, so filled with potential, who was going to lead them into a new kingdom—had agonized and then breathed his last on the cross.

Think of the women who followed him and hadn’t been able to embalm his body on Friday. Now on Saturday they were not allowed to do so because of the Sabbath. So they were left with no way to show him their devotion, no opportunity to pay tribute to his body. No work to distract themselves from their loss.


I’ve been there, haven’t you? When all your hopes have been destroyed and you realize your dreams will not be realized. Perhaps when someone you love dies? It takes time to process your loss. Your mind doesn’t want to accept the pain and pushes it away in denial. We want to blame someone and often God takes the brunt of our anger. We are where Lazarus’ sister was when she said, “Lord, if you had been here our brother wouldn’t have died!” We are where Jesus was when he said, “Father, why have you abandoned me?”

But at some point in this Saturday experience, you realize a phase of your life is over and you must bear the loss and go on.

I think the gift of Holy Saturday is that even when we are at our lowest, and everything seems hopeless, and even when we can’t feel God is near, he is. When we are in that dark pit, alone and desolate and frightened, he is there. When we are “going through Hell,” we can know the Son of God has been there, too. There is nowhere we can go where he hasn’t been.

Jesus taught us how to make it through the Holy Saturday loss when, though he felt abandoned, he said, “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” He showed us God still exists, even when we can’t feel him, and we can trust and place ourselves in his hands.

Yes, he could have risen on Saturday morning. Yes, he could give us everything we want right when we want it. But then we wouldn’t be given the gift of being able to say, “God, I can’t feel you here. I can’t understand what has happened. I’d give anything to change it and I don’t know why you allowed it. Still, I believe in you. I know, even though it doesn’t seem like it right now, you love me. And I know you are all powerful. So even if I can’t have what I want, I trust you that you know what I need, and you want to shower me with goodness.”

It takes time to get to the point of being able to say this and mean it, all while enduring intense pain. But that’s the gift of Saturday, Time. And because we now know that Jesus did rise and our God isn’t dead, the gift of Saturday is Hope. Because of that Saturday and what happened next we now can trust that a Sunday will come and with it, the resurrection of all that is good.

May all your Saturdays of Despair be followed by Sundays of Life!


Healing After a Miscarriage

Five Steps Toward Healing After a Miscarriage

            “I’m sorry, we can’t find a heartbeat.” I was five months pregnant and the ultrasound technician confirmed my fear; a fourth son or daughter had died before I could cradle the baby in my arms. As I dressed, I heard a doctor talking about the ultrasound patient before me who, upon learning she was expecting twins, had told him she would end the pregnancy.

            In tears, I returned to my doctor who said to expect a spontaneous miscarriage, or—as he called it—abortion, within a few days. When my body continued to embrace its precious treasure, he scheduled me for a TAP, or therapeutic abortion procedure.

            I reeled through the process, so routine for the nurses and doctors who ended pregnancies every day, but so devastating to me. I wanted to proclaim to each of the medical personnel that I was different; I would never choose this course of action if my baby were alive. One kind woman brought me a general surgery consent form so that I wouldn’t have to sign the usual document. The hospital kept me overnight for observation—in the maternity wing.

            Each of my miscarriages was devastating. Each left me with a child-shaped hole in my heart and in my soul. Well-meaning but inadequate comments like, “You can always try again,” or “It must have been God’s will,” gave me no comfort.

            However, today my heart is full and, though still tender, my soul is healed enough to offer suggestions for dealing with miscarriages, whether your own or a loved one’s.

If you have lost a child through miscarriage:

1)      Acknowledge the loss of an individual. Name the child. You will know him or her in heaven.

2)      Mark your loss with a ritual that feels right to you, whether with a formal church service, or a quiet gathering of friends and family at home.

3)      Allow yourself to grieve. Though you didn’t have time to know your child’s face and voice, you knew your hopes and dreams for your child. You anticipated the birth date and carried the child close to your heart. Perhaps you imagined how he would look or what she would grow up to be. Though the details of individuality are still a mystery, God knows and loves your child, and the world suffered a loss when your child died.

4)      Accept that your spouse may experience the loss differently than you. It’s not unusual for one parent to feel much more distress after a miscarriage than the other. With any death, people grieve in different ways. One may want to be alone; another needs to be with loved ones. One person may talk over and over about the loss; another may be made speechless by pain.

5)      Accept that you and your spouse may have mixed feelings, perhaps even relief, about the miscarriage. Parenthood is frightening. You can’t help your feelings, but you can be sensitive to each other.

If someone you know has lost a child through miscarriage:

1)      Acknowledge the loss of an individual. Send a note of sympathy, call, or visit with the bereaved parents.

2)      Let the parents know that you will keep them and their child in prayer. Perhaps you can commemorate the baby’s short life at your next church attendance.

3)      Realize that the grieving parents may not feel the way you expect them to feel. Accept that people grieve differently and that their emotions may fluctuate even hour to hour.

4)      Be sensitive to how difficult it may be for the couple to be around others who are expecting a child or have a new little one. However, continue to include them in invitations to baby showers and christenings, perhaps adding a note to say you understand that this might be difficult for them. Let them decide whether they are ready to accept.

5)      Don’t offer platitudes in an attempt to cheer the couple out of their loss. A simple, “I’m so sorry,” and time spent with them in companionship will let them know you care.

            Today I experience profound gratitude as I watch my four grown daughters, and yes, their births eased the pain, though they didn’t replace the children I lost. Not all women are blessed with motherhood after miscarriages. My heart goes out to them. I know God’s does, too.

            When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [   ] Jesus wept. (John 11:33,35 NIV)

4 Minutes 4 Hard Times – Trust like Jesus

            Welcome back to 4 Minutes 4 Hard Times. Over the last few weeks we’ve looked at aspects of difficult times: worry, fear, gratitude, necessary losses, and money concerns.

 (1 minute version)

            In this  final Lenten post I’d like to consider Holy Week and what we can learn from studying Jesus as he faced his own “hard times.” We start with his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey and being hailed as “King of the Jews.” The crowd and the apostles held high expectations for this king, that he would overthrow the Roman conquerors and lead the people to wealth and power. Only a few days later those expectations were crushed, their hope crucified.

            During the final hours before his death, Jesus wept in the garden, pled with his Father to let there be another way, suffered betrayal by a loved one, was wrongly accused, was abandoned by all his followers, and felt forsaken by God. He was stripped, beaten, and humiliated.

             He responded to these challenges with trust when he committed to follow his Father’s will rather than his own, accepted his abuse without retaliation, confirmed his identity, promised redemption to the criminal who testified to his innocence, gave his mother into a friend’s care, forgave us all, and—demonstrating his unending love—commended his spirit into his Father’s hands.

            Let’s look at that final act. He commended himself into his Father’s care. Even while suffering to the point of death, he trusted his Father. Isn’t that the ultimate answer to how we need to respond to difficult times? His trust enabled him to follow, accept, forgive, and love. Placing our trust in God will do the same for us.

             “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)


(3 minutes more)

             It all comes down to how we answer some “meaning of life” questions:

  •  Do you really believe God loves you, and is in fact Love itself?
  •  Do you believe God is all-powerful? (Including able to forgive anything?)
  •   Do you trust God?

            If we profess God’s love and power, why don’t we trust him completely, even when things go bad? I think we expect God to keep things going as we want them to go. When our expectations (like the Jerusalem crowd’s) are not met, we are tempted to doubt his love and doubt that he wants what is best for us. We become angry with God. We forget that God knows, better than we do, what is best. When Jerusalem wanted power in this world, Jesus was offering them an heir’s inheritance in the next. When we want health and happiness, he may be helping us grow in depth and holiness.

             God longs for us to trust him. Not a problem in good times. Not so easy when challenges crush our spirits. But he treasures our trust in those times, especially. Much of the Bible (if not all) is written to encourage us to trust in God.

             We read about Abraham’s willingness to trust God, “And he believed the Lord, and God counted it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

             Jeremiah, the prophet, writes, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

            David, the psalmist, knew all the rewards that come from trusting God: “In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them”. (Psalm 22:4)

 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. (Psalm 28:7)

 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:5)

“In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:4)

            The entire New Testament is an account from Jesus of how much our Heavenly Father loves us and is anxious to forgive us. How even the sparrow doesn’t fall without God knowing and caring. The night Jesus would be betrayed he said to his apostles, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” (John 14:1) He continued, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)

             Jesus knew what was coming and his final words before his arrest were words of comfort for his apostles and for us. He didn’t want us to be troubled by things of this world. He wanted us to trust him and his Father. To trust the way he trusted.

             Even recent saints received messages from God, reminding us to trust in him. The Sunday after Easter is celebrated as the Feast of Divine Mercy. St. Faustina began this special devotion to Jesus’ message, “that His Love and Forgiveness is greater than our sins. All He asks is that we trust in Him, ask for and accept His Mercy, and then let Mercy work through us to help others. He also wants us to be merciful, loving, compassionate, and forgiving to others.”

             Like the gospel command, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” this demand that we show mercy to our neighbors “always and everywhere” seems impossible to fulfill. But the Lord assures us that it is possible. “When a soul approaches Me with trust,” He explains, “I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls. (St. Faustina’s Diary, 1074).

             None of us want to hear platitudes when we are troubled. Yet, saying “In God we trust,” is not a cliché. Those words hold the depth of wisdom.

             Trust your troubles to God. Each night give your cares to him. He loves you and will be with you through every evil time. He promised he will cause all things to work together for good, for you who love him.

Blessings on your Holy Week.

Betty Arrigotti

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