Yes, Jesus died, he “descended” into the mysterious depths into which death leads. He entered into the ultimate solitude into which no one can accompany us, for “being dead” is above all loss of communication. It is isolation where love does not penetrate. In this sense Christ descended “into hell,” whose essence is precisely the loss of love, being cut of from God and man. But wherever he goes, “hell” ceases to be hell, because he himself is life and love, because he is the bridge which connects man and God and thereby also connects men among themselves. And thus the descent is at the same time also transformation. The final solitude no longer exists—except, at most, for the one who wants it, who rejects love form within and from its foundation, because he seeks only himself, wants to be from and for himself.
—Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, Meditations on Holy Week
Today there is a great silence on earth; great silence and solitude too; great silence because the king sleeps. The earth was afraid and was still because God in the flesh was asleep.
—Ancient homily for Holy Saturday
Image: Descent into Hell, Duccio