In discussing the transformative nature of prayer, Hans Urs von Balthasar discusses "the great danger of ironing out the immense drama which lies between the 'world's end' and 'heaven's beginning' and rendering it...flat and 'harmless'."
It seems to me that this is one of the decisively unique aspects of von Balthasar's theology. I have not found in any other theologian such a profound appreciation for the significance of Holy Saturday -- both in the life of Christ and, by extension, in the life of the Christian.
It seems to me that most Christians would be happy to skip directly from Palm Sunday to Easter, with the Cross as little more than a support that props up the bridge between these two triumphs. Good Friday (even the name says this) is something experienced by Christ, not by his followers. He died in our place, so we live the triumphant life. He died, so we don't have to.
But notice: we're going to die.
Our typical de facto theology doesn't match up well with experience -- certainly not in the long run and usually not in the short run either.
And this is what von Balthasar calls us to notice. The Christian life involves death. The servant is not greater than the master. We can't get to Easter any other way than through the Cross. And so we should expect to experience darkness, even the darkness and God forsakeness of the Cross. It's a sobering thought.
Paul says, "if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." Look at the verb tenses. We have died. We will live.
It seems to me that the whole Christian life is lived between Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday. Easter exists for us only in faith.