Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings



Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 16, 2021

Readings: Acts of the Apostles 1.5-17, 20a-26;  1st John 4.11-16;  John 17.11b-19

Please read the selections given from Sacred Scripture first before reading this meditation.

The foundational feast of the contemplative life is the Ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father.  The present, absolute, unique reality is the risen glorified Christ ascended into heaven.  

Prayer is the immediate consciousness of our real union with Christ as he is now.  The Letter to the Colossians proclaims the contemplative heart of the mystery of the Christian life, “Seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Mind the things of heaven not of the earth.  For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ your life appears so you will appear with him in glory” (3.3).

Our Christian contemplative life is based on the mystery of the meeting of God and humanity in the Person of Jesus in all the historical factuality of Christ, yesterday, and today, tomorrow, always the same. Jesus in the glory of the Father, at His right hand, is the reality of God’s reign.  This is real!  Jesus is SON OF MAN.  Jesus is truly human.  But Jesus is truly divine.  Jesus is the Son of God, the Word Who is with the Father from the beginning and by Whom all things were made.  In this divine Person there is this union of the divine and the human, marvelous, beyond all comprehension, beyond all the powers of our human capabilities.  Jesus is the unique and absolute mediator between God and all humanity, indeed of all creation. “No one can come to the Father but through Me” (John 14. 6).

In the Ascension we have Jesus now in the Presence of God in full glory and power as the Savior, as the Mediator, the One Who fills all with All.  

This final departure of Jesus into the cloud of eternity, of the great Unknowing Mystery which we call heaven, is a real event.  We plunge ourselves into this reality that Jesus is in the glory of the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit through our faith in the living Word of God and the authority of the Church proclaiming God’s Revelation.

In the Acts of the Apostles we have the description of this fact of our faith: Jesus ascending finally into the glory of the heaven-mystery.  The whole purpose of the book of the Acts is to show that now we continue in Christ by our mystical union with Christ in His glory.  Anchored into the sacred, glorified humanity of Jesus we are anchored into the Triune God.  

“You are dead ”, that is, you are dead to the standards of the world and to the limited powers of reason and to all the self-defeating attachments that make us cling to our false self, to our roaming, raving quest to be as another god among the gods of our culture.  “Your life is hid with Christ in God ”, that is, the principle of your life is now the hidden glory of Jesus, hidden yes, like in the cloud of unknowing, but still real, still effective and powerful.

However, never before has it been so difficult to cling to this foundational mystery.  Many within the churches are embarrassed by the mystery of Christ’s ascension. They are really embarrassed by the divinity of Christ united to His humanity now in the glory of the heaven-mystery.  

Movements like the Jesus Seminar are actively seeking to construct a Jesus who is a transgender-like teacher of wisdom, one of many manifestations of savior-from-God like personages of Hinduism, or a Buddha or Taoist Sage.  

The popularity of the novel and film, The Da Vinci Code, shows the readiness to disbelieve the divinity and the redemptive mystery of Jesus in his death and glorification.  The media supports this deconstruction of the mystery since a Jesus without the glory of his ascension is more palatable to our secular, agnostic culture.  If we hold the ascended Christ in our vision and live in that profession we must face the criticism of an unbelieving culture.  Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, saw that vision of Christ in glory, professed it and was stoned to death.

The Ascension, like the Transfiguration, proclaims the fullness of Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, unique, absolute Savior, the Head of the Church, the One Who is to come and bring all creation into its final state of glory

We have the witness of the Holy Spirit within us.   The Holy Spirit is present at the very depths of our being. We are enabled, graced, to know Jesus in His fullness.  By the indwelling Spirit we can see the Father through the glory of Jesus, the Son of God.  The faithful contemplative holds the vision of the glory of Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man.  The contemplative with the gift of mystic union through grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, transformed in divine love, penetrates to the heart of the Triune God and lives in the mystery of God’s Presence.

The believing Church of today is the fruit of Jesus’ prayer.  We, the living members of the Church, are the effects of Jesus’ prayer to the Father.  We, the mystical body of Christ, are the fruit of the Paschal Mystery of Christ expressed in His prayer from the Gospel Reading of today:

Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me so that they may be one just as we are one.  They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.  Consecrate them in the truth.  Your word is truth.

The gift of contemplation is to live always consciously in the presence of God in love.  It is the fruit of the ascension of Jesus into heaven and of the consequent pouring forth of the Holy Spirit.  

Our contemplative rule of life is to enter into the prayer of silence twice each day.  Our prayer practice along with a Christian life of Gospel virtues, is the concrete expression of the reality of this mystery of Christ’s ascension.  Our prayer is in the cloud of unknowing because our union with Christ is in faith.  But the power of the presence of the Triune God within us is the direct, immediate fruit of the love we share with God.  This is what Jesus prays for in John 17: So that your love for me may live in them, and I may live in them.

The more we enter into this mystery the greater opposition we will find from our three-fold enemy: the world, the flesh and the devil.  The world does not believe as we discussed above; the flesh, that is our fallen self-system, seeks its own ends; and the temptations and mysterious influences of evil can easily enter into our imaginings and desires if we allow them.  “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1st John 5. 4-5).

Let us celebrate the Holy Eucharist in thanksgiving for the glory of the ascension.  “Go to my brethren and say to them: ‘I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God” (John 20.17).

--William C. Fredrickson, (Oblate, OSB; D.Min.)



For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Frederickson