Holy Saturday and the Harrowing of Hell
Crisis Magazine: Hunter Leonard: 'Jesus truly died on Good Friday and thus His soul truly descended, like all who died before Him, into the realm of the dead, Hell. Prior to the Passion of Christ, the hope of Heaven had not been realized, for the gates of Paradise were closed to all who passed before the incarnate Lord.
'Since the fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the presence of God in Eden, the gates of Heaven were shut. Though created in union with the Lord, our first parents rejected this supernatural grace by their disobedience, separating themselves and all their children from God. The entire human race is born into a broken family, outside of Eden and out of union with the Lord. This we understand as Original Sin.
'For all who died before the redeeming Passion of Christ, the gates of Heaven, the joy of eternal union with the Lord, were closed off and inaccessible. The broken relationship between God and man had not yet been healed by the God-man, Jesus Christ, so there was no way for man to be united with the Lord after death. Even the righteous, the heroes of old, named and unnamed, were unable to ascend to the glory of Heaven.
'So, all deceased souls plummeted into the realm of the dead, called Hell, as they awaited the advent of the Savior. Like all before Him, the Lord’s soul descended into Hell; however, our Lord’s soul, united to His divine Person, plunges into the underworld with no intention of remaining there. Jesus goes into the depths of the dead to bring life and resurrection. He goes to save, to proclaim the Good News to the righteous who died before Him, and to bring them to life. He goes to plunder and harrow Hell....'