Saturday Morning Christian Meditation
During the Season of Lent
St. John’s Catholic Church,
February 17 – March 23, 2024.
7:45am - 8:15am
In the Fran Ragain Room
(towards the rear of the church on the presbytery side)
For more information, call Dan Olivieri at 247-1097
Have you ever walked into a movie theater after the movie has already started and found that its so dark that you can’t see well enough to find a seat. If you trust and allow yourself to wait a couple of minutes for your eyes to adjust to the light that is already in the room, you’ll be able to find your seat without fumbling over other people in the process.
In the same way that we allow our physical eyes to adjust to the light that is already present in a dark room, so we can trust and take time to engage our soul eyes to be illuminated by the light of God’s presence.
This is why we meditate together. We make ourselves available to become receptive to God’s silent, loving presence within us. This is contemplative awareness. Deeper than any thought, or feeling, or bodily sensation, there is a silent awareness, an instinctive wisdom that is a taste of our very being. It is not a property of the intellect. It is a quality of our Soul. You cannot think or feel your way there. You receive what is already here. In trying to comprehend Mystery, the thinking mind usually looks outside itself, and can be like a dog chasing its own tail. The contemplative process is for the dog to be still and become aware of its tail already present. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:11)
Soul exists in God. The very nature of Soul is acceptance and gratitude. God’s acceptance for me. I have acceptance for this moment exactly as it is, and I have gratitude for seeing that I exist in this moment. In this receptivity, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,” as Mary said with simplicity in her canticle. (Luke 1:46)
The Lord Jesus is the perfect image of the Father, and the perfect image of our true self. In Christ we discover our true self, which is not separate, not alone, but part of one whole, unified existence. Colossians 1:17 says, “He existed before all things, and in him all things hold together.” We are like water molecules in the ocean. Each molecule has its own individuality, but each molecule exists in the larger ocean. We humans, even us religious humans, fall into the belief that we are separate from reality, from nature, from each other, separate even from ourselves. This is alienation and a grand illusion. This is missing the mark (the definition of sin), because the illusion that we are separate from the whole of existence creates fear, anxiety, and covetousness. As we become aware of this false self, the ‘self-we- think-we-are’, we can have a desire to know the ‘self-we-truly-are’. So, the separate self must empty itself in a Kenosis, a dying or self-emptying, which is modeled by Christ in his Paschal Mystery. This is the penitential direction we are invited to take in our Lenten Journey into the Death and Resurrection/ Transformation of the Lord. St. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20).
Our Saturday morning meditation will begin with a short prayer. Together, we will sit and rest, and open ourselves to be immersed in silent awareness, and the ongoing process of transformation for twenty minutes. During that time, I may follow my breath and/or silently repeat a prayer word or phrase that gives the wandering, thinking mind a job to do, which then supports me to become aware of the mystery of God’s presence. The meditation period will end with music, and we close with a spoken reflection.
Catholic, Christian Meditation is a continuation of the Sacrifice of the Mass; the Table Fellowship of the Lord Jesus where we offer our imperfect, unfinished selves on the altar along with the gifts of bread and wine, and together in thanksgiving, we are consecrated into the Body of Christ.
Dan Olivieri, Masters in Divinity, Franciscan School of Theology, GTU, Berkely, CA,
Board Certified Catholic Lay Chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains