On “Black Saturday” weddings in Lent – and other matters…

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I last did a post on February 27, On Ash Wednesday and Lent – 2023, a little over two weeks ago. I had just finished up a five-day, four-night adventure, canoeing into the Okefenokee Swamp. In recovering from that adventure I missed Ash Wednesday. But I figured I did some good penance by enduring the butt-numbing discipline of paddling a canoe for hours and hours on end. (Not to mention mosquitoes and watching out for curious gators.)

On the other hand – kind of an Alpha and Omega – it looks like I’m going to miss Easter Sunday as well. My grandson is getting married this spring, and guess what date he and his fiance picked? April 8. It took me awhile to figure out, but that’s the day before Easter Sunday. That’s Holy Saturday to some people, while other devout people call it Black Saturday.

BTW: I’ll miss Easter Sunday – or at least going to church – because it’s 450 miles down to Tampa. After the weekend “party time” with one extended family, one I haven’t seen in awhile, I’ll want to get home quick. (“Forgive me, Lord, but I’m not up to drinking that much any more.”)

And just as an aside, I also had to change a long-sought doctor appointment. The doctor I’ve seen for years moved to a distant city. My new doctor – the one my brother and his wife picked after the same move – is very popular. She’s so popular that when I tried to make an appointment back in the middle of 2022, the earliest appointment I could get was April 7. But because I’ll be driving down to Florida for the wedding, I had to make a new appointment. The date for my new appointment? October 31, Halloween Day.

At least it’s in 2023, but I figure all this rigmarole is worth some good Lenten points.

For one thing, it led me to do more research on Holy Saturday. It’s the final day of Holy Week, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Specifically, the day “commemorates the Harrowing of Hell while Jesus Christ’s body lay in the tomb.” In some places it’s also called “Black Saturday.” That would seem – at first blush – not to be an auspicious day for a wedding.

Then there’s the article, Good Friday and Holy Saturday: Getting Married During Lent. It noted that as holy sacraments, “Catholic weddings during Lent [are] allowed except on two days.” Those two days are Good Friday and Holy Saturday. “If one were to ask a priest to allow a wedding on any of the two above-mentioned days, the immediate response is going to be a no.” But then, the young couple is not going to get married in a Catholic church – on April 8.

As to the “why,” Holy Saturday is a day of mourning. It reminds us of “Christ’s laying in the tomb.” Accordingly, the Catholic church says that “merrymaking, noise, and activity” must be kept to a minimum. No sacraments are allowed, including marriage and holy communion. There are some limited exceptions. Holy communion can be given as a Viaticum, to one who is dying; in other words, as part of Last Rites. Then too, “When there is an imminent threat to one’s life, such as death knocking on one’s door, lifting matrimonial restrictions is a possibility.”

In other words, a couple can get married if one partner has one foot in the grave. Which is not just an idiom meaning one is on the verge of death. (Close to death or in terrible condition.) It’s also the name of a British sitcom series that ran from 1990 to 2000. As for the idiom itself, “This picturesque hyperbolic phrase was first recorded in 1566.”

None of which I knew before researching for this post.

There’s one more thing. Hotels in the Tampa Bay area are a lot more expensive than I’m used to. I used to live across the Bay in Pinellas County, for 50 years, up until 2010 or so, so I never paid much attention. But trying to book a reasonably-priced room down there turned out to be a wake-up call. Not least of all because they all want hefty deposits, starting at $100 a night.

I finally found a room – a swanky Hilton – for $250, and thought that wasn’t too bad for two nights. But “through my own fault, my own grievous fault,” that turned out to be the price for one night. I’d been trying to book a room for some time, was tired, and seem to have been swayed by the fact that they didn’t charge a deposit. I also found out that it’s difficult to exercise that “free cancellation” option. So I’ll spent the evening of Good Friday at a swanky Hilton in the resort area that is Tampa and the Gulf Coast. But I learned some valuable lessons.

For one thing, from now on I’ll use the “pay at the hotel” option. As for those disgusting deposits, I’ll read through the fine print when booking online. (Or I could just reduce my visits to the Tampa Bay area to an absolute minimum.) As for learning valuable lessons, I’ve mentioned before that some people choose not to give up things as part of their Lenten Discipline. Some choose – as I have done in the past – to spend Lent in contemplation. That’s the spiritual discipline that “seeks a direct awareness of the divine which transcends the intellect.”

As Wikipedia explained, contemplation also means “profound thinking about something.” And in a religious sense, “contemplation is usually a type of prayer or meditation.” Then there’s this:

Within Western Christianity contemplation is often related to mysticism as expressed in the works of mystical theologians such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross as well as the writings of Margery KempeAugustine Baker and Thomas Merton.

I’m sure I’ll find other spiritual matters to contemplate between now and the end of Lent, 2023. (And do a future post or two on.) But until then, I’ll go ahead and ponder the spiritual lessons already mentioned. Then too, I’ll ponder the lesson about “whenever a relative or good friend schedules a spring wedding.” From now on I’ll be sure to check the date, just to make sure no such future wedding happens during Holy Week, and especially not on “Black Saturday.”

And in so “contemplating,” I’ll be in pretty good company. Just like Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thomas Merton, and the nice lady “contemplating” below

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The upper image is courtesy of Black Saturday Holy Week – Image Results.

The Book of Common Prayer reference. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

For more on contemplation as a Lenten discipline, see 2016’s My Lenten meditation. I borrowed the lower “nice lady contemplating” image from that post. It also included Lenten disciplines: spiritual exercises or ego trip? The 2016 post noted that for that Lenten period I contemplated “just when, where and how Moses came to write the first five books of the Bible. (The Torah.)”

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