Falling into God
rediscovering soul within the Christian tradition
I was born in Brisbane, and have spent most of my life in the south-east corner of Queensland. It has been my privilege to have accompanied folk in their faith journeys for almost thirty-five years: ten in pastoral situations, and twenty-five years in specific spiritual direction. From my boyhood, I have always been fascinated with the ways that people talk about God. Far more intriguing to me than “what does this person believe?” is “what has led them to relate to God in the way they do?”
As for tertiary studies, I completed an M.A. in Studies in Religion (at University of Queensland) back in 1994, and a PhD (from Griffith University) in 1999. The doctorate centered on verifying a mystical approach of reading the scriptures – which blends very well with how scripture is often used in spiritual direction.
Another long-time passion of mine is the world of dreams, and how they can help us to listen and to love. I also enjoy helping others to re-see the gift of traditional prayers and dogmas through the lens of a contemplative approach. As well, I relish the opportunity to read accounts of near-death experiences, and to listen to people share their stories about experiences of the spiritual realm – especially the stories which they might feel a little reticent about disclosing to clergy or professional ministers of religion.
Retreats are also a joy, and they have gifted me with the opportunity to meet many small groups on the “grass-roots level” in various places throughout Queensland, as well as other places in Australia and New Zealand. Lately I’ve been interested in assisting people who have been prayerfully asking “What has my life been for? How might God have been using my life – humble though it may have been?” It is wonderful to be able to help them see how grace has been working in and through them, in sometimes the most surprising of ways through their years.
Writing is also a passion, and I’ve self-published books and mp3s through the years. A full list of my books and talks that are available for purchase can be found on the “Patrick’s Work” page of this website.
"I say more: the just man justices, keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces. Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is – Christ – For Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his, To the Father, Through the features of men’s faces.”
Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844-1889
(The Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins London: Wordsworth Editions 1994, p53)
No Agenda but Love
These thoughts celebrate the lives of all those who’ve risked living boldly, faithfully, tenderly and truly – all in the name of Love.
We all have met many people who live lives that reflect the graceful, generous, forgiving, non-violent and simple lifestyle that is written all over the pages of the gospels.
We don’t “get to God”; it’s more about letting God get to us.
It’s not so much about becoming holy, as about being wholly human – and therefore celebrating and living from the holiness that we already are – but don’t realize it, and mightn’t even call it as such.
It’s more about accepting, holding and letting Love into the reality of what is – in all of its beauty and its blemishes, its hope and its hells.
Being lovingly present to whatever is the encounter with God, and the great stories of the gospels become enfleshed within our lives – whether or not we name them as encounters with God.
Words from some wonderful people
“Patrick Oliver’s retreats are always (and I mean always) challenging and thought provoking. He has such a way with words – each sentence is filled with meaning. Recently I spent my retreat time based upon his series on suffering, and I found it the best exposition of Job that I have heard. I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.”
Dr. Sue Fairley
“Over many years I have been acquainted with Patrick Oliver in areas such as developing community relations, spirituality, spiritual direction and personal development. Patrick has a gentle and affirmative style which has been nourished from many years through pastoral engagements as well as his own studies. I would strongly endorse the services of Patrick, who will bring his expertise and wisdom to those fortunate to avail of Patrick’s experience.”
Dr. Kevin Treston
“I look forward to Patrick’s participation as a retreat facilitator in our yearly programs. In Praying our Dreams, Patrick’s gentle expertise provided a safe framework for participants to explore dreams as a gift of listening to the soul. His work is wholistic, expansive and sound in both theology and scripture. His psychological expertise was also evident and valued. Participants named a “freeing of soul”, ‘release from anxiety’, ‘confidence to explore’, as a result of the weekend. I highly recommend Patrick’s work to individuals and groups wanting to explore spirituality.”
Sr. Anne Ryan RSM
New South Wales