Holy Saturday as the Dark Night

stormy night at the beach - photo by Greg via Pexels

The tabernacle is empty. The tomb is full. The stone is rolled across the opening. There is no going back. The disciples are overwhelmed with fear, shock, exhaustion, and grief. The air has been sucked out of our lives. This is Holy Saturday.

It is Holy Saturday where many of us spend far too much of our time. Rather than just a day, the experience of Holy Saturday can last seasons or years. It is the dark night of the soul. It is those times where doubt and despair have taken hold of our lives, and we cannot find the love of God anywhere. Even the Scriptures are silent. “Why?” and “How could God let this happen?” are the only prayers we can muster. These are times when our community has scattered, and we feel utterly alone. It is our agony in the garden before the prospect of having to live even another day in the darkness.

After 40 days of facing our disordered attachments and preparing to witness the suffering of Jesus, are we prepared to bear this suffering of emptiness and still believe that unconditional love and forgiveness show us the way to live? Perhaps it is not our crucifixions—what the world and others do to us—that we need to have faith to bear in this life, but the suffering of living without knowing Love. Do we have the faith to stay with the suffering? To sit in the dark night and still believe our cries are being heard? St. Ignatius implores that when prayer is dry and empty, we must double down and sit in the dryness even longer. This is our faith and practice: believing that somehow God is using even this most horrendous darkness of our lives to give birth to new life in ourselves and our world.

The Holy Saturdays of our lives come far more often than once a year and last far longer than a day. When we are utterly desolate with the state of our Church, our political systems, our families and communities, and our lives, we are called to stay firm and to name and sit in that darkness and suffering. We cannot abandon our faith in Infinite Love.

We have the gift of knowing from Scripture and the many times we have witnessed the Paschal Mystery play out in the deaths and resurrections in our lives and history moving us toward union with God, there will ultimately be an Easter.

Photo by Greg via Pexels.


  1. “This is our faith and practice: believing that somehow God is using even this most horrendous darkness of our lives to give birth to new life in ourselves and our world.” – one of the best things on suffering I have read. Thank You and God’s peace and grace be with you Lisa.

  2. Dear Lisa, having experienced childhood trauma, having worked with a spiritual director and a Jungian therapist, and now learning and practicing therapies for healing trauma, your graced words resonate deeply. We have always been surrounded by Infinite Love. Thank you for your inspired wisdom.

  3. Fine reflection. Thanks Lisa.
    From the unreal lead me to the real!
    From the darkness lead me to the light!
    From death lead me to immortality! – prays the Pavamana Mantra.

  4. Lisa,
    Warm wishes of gratitude and prayer for you in your journey of healing. Thank you for this reflection. I was advised in Confession to pray with the tomb. When I opened this email, you provided imagery, insight, and wisdom to sit with in prayer at the tomb. Blessings of hope, harmony and holiness, Susan

  5. Thank you for this article. It is exactly what I needed to read. My Holy Saturdays are still continuing and it is getting worse with family problems and lack of friendship and caring. Thank you again for the comforting words. Rosemarie Roth

  6. Thank you for beautifully conveying in words (and vision) the dark feeling we can pass through or be in. It also gave me a different dimension of Holy Saturday.


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