Blog of Ewa Bartosiewicz

Month: April 2023

Holy Saturday


In the face of death, words are always unnecessary. You can only be silent and persevere, you can trust and love. However, we are afraid of silence, because it brings out what we might not expect. We drown it out even in prayer – we constantly have to say something, sing, ask and sometimes get angry with God. And silence is an opportunity to listen.

We carry this deep silence within us, just like the ocean, which, turbulent and tossing waves on the surface, is an oasis of calm at the bottom. If we only find the strength to go deeper, we will discover something very important about ourselves, about God, about the world. More than flashy articles and loud comments.


The hardest thing about Holy Saturday is that nothing is happening. It is often easier to suffer than to wait, easier to give up than to hold on to hope, easier to escape than to persist. This time invites us to be patient and trust that what may seem like the end is not the end at all.

Once my spiritual director told me that our faith is strengthened in “the time between the trapezes”. This is the moment when the acrobat performing stunts in the air has already released one trapeze, but has not yet managed to catch the next one. I’ve never done such acrobatics, but I imagine that these few seconds can last forever and be accompanied by a lot of anxiety. This is the experience of Holy Saturday – after all, you know that this story has a continuation, but are you sure?… This is where my trust is tested, not in times when I already know and understand everything.

How difficult it is to wait for the fulfillment of a promise is seen in the example of Abraham. Before the words he heard from God were fulfilled, he tried many times to push his own plan through, making a lot of mistakes along the way. I remind myself of this whenever I have the feeling that time is passing and nothing is happening, and I am starting to lose hope. God really knows what He’s doing and He’s not delaying (cf. 2 Peter 3:9).


There is no liturgy on Holy Saturday. Don’t be fooled by the inscriptions on posters in parishes, because there is no such thing as “Holy Saturday Liturgy”! The Easter Vigil is already a celebration of Resurrection Sunday, which, according to Jewish tradition, begins after dark. The only liturgy of Saturday is the Liturgy of the Hours, which is especially beautiful these days. The ancient homily for Holy Saturday delighted me from the first reading. Jesus, bringing everyone out of the Abyss from Adam and Eve themselves, shows in practice what the victory of life over death means. These are the specific people in the history of the world that we will meet someday in Eternity.

Besides, there is emptiness in the Liturgy. This is the time to stay in Adoration, but above all, to deeply experience the emptiness we have inside. The one that we clog with the multitude of tasks, the number of words, the noise of everyday life. It is not comfortable, it causes pain, but without it we will not take full advantage of the grace that God has for us, because for this we need an empty vessel.

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Eph  5:14).

Good Friday

The Lamb will shepherd them

Good Friday is an amazing celebration of love, although it is not easy to see that through the suffering of the cross. I experienced it very personally during the third week of the Spiritual Exercises, which focuses on the Passion of Christ. There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, much less for his enemies! The sacrifice in this case has no equal, because it is the Son of the Living God.

In John’s Gospel and Revelation, Jesus is called the Lamb of God. This has its consequences also in the events of Good Friday. According to John’s message, Jesus died on the cross exactly at the moment when the Jews were getting ready for supper and were preparing the lambs that were to be eaten during Passover. He turns out to be the truest sacrificial Lamb.

When I was in the novitiate, I read many times the inscription on the cross in the chapel: “The Lamb will shepherd them” (Rev 7:17). Contemplating these words from the Apocalypse, I marveled at how God fills every space. He is lamb and shepherd, sacrifice and priest, God and man, alpha and omega. There is no experience with would not include His presence.

The veil of the Sanctuary

Synoptics all noted that during the death of Jesus “the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mk 15:38). It was a breakthrough for me to realize what that means. The veil of the sanctuary in the Jerusalem temple separated the part accessible to the priests from the most holy place, where the High Priest could enter only once a year to offer incense. It was a physical reminder of the gulf between holy God and sinful people. By dying on the cross, Jesus bridges this gap. There is no more sacred and profane, the whole reality is permeated with God’s presence. I am reminded of this whenever it seems to me that God has more important things to do, then listen to me, that I am too small and too sinful to be close to Him. But the veil is not there anymore!

I am

In the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, the most important thing for me is the Gospel. While on Palm Sunday we read the description of the passion according to one of the synoptic authors, on Good Friday we read it according to St. John. Here we see Jesus not so much suffering and martyred as full of glory, showing His true dignity as the King of the Universe. The first moment when this manifests itself is already the arrest in Gethsemane. When Judas comes with the cohort and they ask about Jesus of Nazareth, He replies “I am”. They turn away and fall to the ground, because this is not a simple answer, but the name of God Himself (Greek εγω ειμι, equivalent to the Hebrew JHWH). Jesus’ “I am” has been with me for a long time as a constant reminder that I am never alone, and He simply is. And that’s always enough.

One more moment of the Friday liturgy always evokes a lot of emotions in me. It is the beautiful, prolonged prayer of the faithful. In its extensive structure, it takes into account various spheres of our lives, but above all, it includes the circles of belonging to the Church, which were formulated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. We pray not only for Catholics and Christians, but also for Jews, Muslims and all people of good will. The arms of the Church on Good Friday are wide open. However, the Heart of Jesus is always open to the greatest extent, so that everyone, without exception, can find their place there. 

Holy Thursday

The Eucharist in action

The turning point in my understanding of Holy Thursday was understanding that while the Synoptic Gospels describe the Last Supper as celebrating Passover, St. John writes about the events before Passover (which will be crucial tomorrow) and in the place where the Eucharist is instituted, he shows us Jesus leaving the table and washing the disciples’ feet.

These two realities must complement each other like two wings without which you cannot fly. Jesus gives us his Body, which strengthens, nourishes and purifies us, but also obliges us to share Him with others. The Eucharist must be implemented in service to our brothers and sisters.

I am incredibly humbled by the thought that Almighty God kneels before me like a slave to once again wash my feet, which I have previously covered in mud myself, while I so often do not have time, courage, inner freedom and humility to stop and focus on my neighbor…

Spiritual agony

Holy Thursday ends with one of the most important moments in Jesus’ earthly life in my opinion – the prayer in Gethsemane. Once I realized that this is really the most difficult moment of the passion, because God who became man, although He was completely obedient to the will of the Father, He experiences moments of spiritual struggle so dramatic that he sweated blood. After that, there will only be torture of the body and physical pain – nothing compared to the paralyzing fear. Jesus is victorious in the dark of night, surrounded by the Apostles who are dozing off, without witnesses or crowds. It is at this point that He makes his final free decision that He gives his life for the salvation of the world. Without this decision, Jesus would have been just savagely murdered although it would have looked exactly the same.

Whenever I think about this scene, I remember how fundamental my motivation, intentions and attitude are in what I do. I can do exactly the same tasks with and without love. Regardless of whether I am humanly successful or unsuccessful, the most important thing is what happens in my heart. It is also there that I experience the greatest struggle, the greatest suffering and the greatest joy of victory.

Interrupted feast

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which begins the period of the Holy Paschal Triduum, has many beautiful elements, such as the already mentioned washing of the feet or the silence of the organs. But what always impressed me the most was the ending itself. It is worth noting that this Mass does not end with a blessing, it is interrupted and waits for its continuation in the following days of the Triduum. However, it should end with a gesture that, for practical reasons, we very rarely see in our parishes – tearing the tablecloth off the altar. This is to symbolize the stripping of Jesus’ clothes and leaving Him by his loved ones. Before this naked altar tomorrow, on behalf of all of us, the priest will fall on his face to show our helplessness against evil and suffering and to stand in truth of our human condition. The Blessed Sacrament is moved to the darkroom and the Tabernacle will be opened and left empty. “Get up, let us go. See, my betrayer is at hand” (Mark 14:42)