Guided Meditation: Holy Saturday
Today’s meditation is not exactly a Gospel contemplation. There is a scripture passage, but the meditation is on an imagined Holy Saturday. If at any point during the guided contemplation your imagination comes to life in such a way that God invites to you stay with a particular moment, follow the invitation that you sense, rather than move on to where the written contemplation is going. In that case you might want to stop reading and continue on your own.
Background to the Text
There is no scripture that tells us what it was like for Jesus’ mother and friends in the time between when he was placed in the tomb and when he rose on the third day. The second day, Saturday, is skipped over (it was the Sabbath after all)– and how easy it is for us to skip over as well. We rush towards the resurrection, and in doing so, we miss out on the day that really is where is spend most of our lives – waiting. Waiting in hope.
This mediation is inspired in part by the essay “Holy Saturday: Waiting to Cross Over” by James Hanvey, SJ in Thinking Faith.
Quiet your body and mind
- Choose a position where you can be relaxed but alert.
- Breathe deeply several times and let your body relax
- Breathe out any worries or stressful thoughts and put them in God’s hands
- Become aware of God’s presence here with you now, looking at you with love.
Ask for a grace
- Ask God for the grace to wait in hope.
Read the scripture passage
Read the passage slowly, savoring the words and beginning to imagine the scene. Read it twice if that helps you to visualize it.
The next day, the one following the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said, ‘After three days I will be raised up.’ Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ This last imposture would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go secure it as best you can.” So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.
It is Holy Saturday – a day of rest; it is a day of emptiness and loss. The memory of yesterday’s grief is still with you.
You want to be with Jesus in any way you can, so you go to his tomb. As you approach, however, you see the guard and the sealed stone. It is an unwelcoming place. Jesus is not there.
So, in your imagination, seek out a quiet place to pray and reflect. Perhaps you find a place in your memory where you have been at peace in the past – a garden, the beach, a sacred place. What are your surroundings like? Take a moment to what you can see, hear, taste, smell, feel.
You meet Mary, the mother of Jesus, there in that place. How does she greet you?
Wherever you are, be still and quiet together. You are aware that Mary’s loss is great – and yours is very real too. This loss stirs the memory of other grief and pain in your life. Sit with Mary – either in silence or conversing – and reflect on your own griefs, losses, pains that weigh on you. What are they? No matter how large, no matter how small, you can share them with Mary, or just sit quietly with her.
Sometimes reflecting on loss brings us face to face with our own powerlessness and finitude. There is so much we cannot control – from the weather, to other people’s choices, to the impact of a global pandemic, to death itself. Spend a gentle moment, if you can, with your own powerlessness.
And in that powerlessness, how does God speak to you?
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God tells us – “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Can you trust in God’s power and promise? And if not yet, can you ask God to give you that trust?
Gather all of your losses, pain, sorrow, waiting and offer them to God.
Only God can make these things holy, only God can move us, in God’s own time, to resurrection.
Continue with your meditation for as long as you like, and share with Mary your thoughts and feelings.
When you are ready, close with your favorite prayer.
Review of Prayer
St. Ignatius recommends that we review our prayer. A written review has many advantages. It enables us to look back on our prayer experience, and to notice what happened. It allows us to be fully present to our experience of prayer. We do not write while we are praying. The review of prayer enables us not to judge ourselves or look for how well we are doing. It helps us to become more sensitive to how God is speaking to us in the here and now. It is also a precious record of our journey with God, which nourishes wholeness and integration.
Some questions to assist with your review:
What happened in your prayer?
What feelings did you experience?
During the prayer period, when did you feel encouraged?
When did you feel discouraged?
Did you receive the grace you asked for?
What did you receive?