Jesus descends into Hell and frees the Righteous. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Gift of the Fear of the Lord from the Holy Spirit so he can fear Hell and being ever separated from God and by pursuing the Virtue of Hope so he can always trust Jesus’ power to save men from Hell.
See: 1 Pet 4:6; 2nd Reading from the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours for Holy Saturday
After Jesus’ death on the Cross at the 9th hour (3 p.m.) on Good Friday, Joseph of Arimathea is given permission to bury the body of Christ by Pontius Pilate. Joseph and Nicodemus carefully remove the body of Jesus from the Cross, assisted by the Blessed Mother and others, and prepare and place His body in the Holy Sepulcher before sunset (about 6 p.m.).
During the time from His death on Good Friday afternoon until His Resurrection in the early morning hours of that first Easter Sunday, Jesus’ soul is away from His body which remains in the Holy Sepulchre. Earlier, Jesus cryptically referred to His plan to redeem the righteous souls in Hell when “the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth” (Mt 12:40). St. Peter (1 Pet 4:6), St. John (Jn 5:25) and St. Paul (Rom 10:7; Eph 4:9) reveal that after Jesus’ death, He descended into Hell to proclaim the good news to the dead and that He has the “keys to death and Hades” (Rev 1:18); the Church recognizes Christ’s descent into Hell as a dogmatic belief and it is included in the Apostle’s Creed.
Before Jesus, because every man was stained by Original Sin (CCC 396-409, 416-419) and his accumulated sins, every man was separated from God in Heaven, and the righteous and the evil resided together in the abode of the dead, called Hell (Sheol/Hebrew; Hades/Greek); all those in Hell were deprived of the vision of, and communion with, God. Jesus, descends into Hell, not to save the damned or destroy Hell, but to allow the just who came before Him and who desire to give themselves to Him, to be received into Heaven.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Marvel at Jesus’ descent into Hell: Son of God, Jesus has the Divine Authority and ability to choose where His soul abides after His death; Divine Charity, rather than immediately returning to His Almighty Father in Heaven, Jesus mercifully chooses to descend into Hell to save all the just who have died before His Crucifixion; Divine Power, Jesus has the supernatural power to free the just who have died in the past and have faith in Him and bring them to Heaven.
Fear Hell and being separated from God
Realize: Though many today prefer to avoid the reality of Hell, the Holy Catholic Church confirms the reality of Hell in the Apostle’s Creed, dogma and the Catechism; every Catholic man should return to the perennial truth that Hell exists.
Believe: Reflect upon the Reality of Hell (CCC 1033-1037).
Pray: Holy Spirit, help me to have a visceral fear of the fires of Hell and give me the Gift of the Fear of the Lord so I despise my sins, fear being separated from You due to my sins, and quickly return to You in the Sacrament of Penance when I fall into sin.
Trust Jesus’ power to save men from Hell
Realize: Just as Jesus opened up Heaven for men when He descended into Hell, He has the Divine Power to save Catholic men who remain faithful and in a state of grace from the fires of Hell and to bring them to Heaven.
Believe: Reflect upon Christ Descended into Hell (CCC 631-637).
Pray: Jesus Christ, Savior of Man, help me grow in the Virtue of Hope so I never fall into the sin of despair and always trust in You to save me from my sins and bring me to the eternal happiness of Heaven.