Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings

The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, October 21, 2018

Readings: Isaiah 53.10-11; Hebrews 4.14-16; Mark10.35-45

Our practice of silent prayer, resting in the Presence of the Holy Trinity is an act of realizing that we sit with Christ in his present state of glory—

Grant that in your glory we may sit …(Gospel Reading). 

The unsearchable reality of Christ’s grace: That even now we can experience the divine life that is Christ Jesus’ state of glory.  This illuminating and divinizing grace is at the heart of the mystical tradition of the Church.

Consider a basic text that describes the essence of contemplative prayer:

“But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Letter to the Ephesians: 2.4-6)

The problem with the request of the brothers James and John (although it is a prayer in a sense because it is a petition to the Lord) is that it is not out of the purified contemplative heart.  It is a prayer tinged with the ego-quest.  Their prayer is a longing for the presence of the Beloved, but it is, also, a wish—the desire of our fallen nature—to feel above others.

It’s a good lesson for us.  Do we seek the glory of imagined self-fulfillment in the mystical life?  The other day I received in the mail a catalogue for workshops on yoga, meditation and even on becoming a modern mystic with the facilitator-author claiming [St] Teresa of Avila as a source for this quest.  The glossy publication with pictures of beautifully buffed people in poses of serene happiness offered altered states of consciousness and physical endowments.

At the entrance to our quest for the presence of Christ and belonging to the Kingdom is the question of Jesus:

You do not know what you are asking for. Can you drink the cup I shall drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? (Gospel Reading).

There is further demand for the purgation of intention.  To their response of We can, Jesus even takes that final state of glory out of their hands: But sitting at my right or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.

The Father is the source of all life within the Trinity and within the Kingdom.  This brings us back again to Ephesians:

 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (2.8-10).”

Our prayer is service; all contemplative prayer along with Liturgical prayer and all petitions, are service.  All prayer in the Spirit shares in the work of salvation.  Prayer is part of the work of the Father for the salvation of the human race and the coming of the Kingdom. 

The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve—to give his life in ransom for many (Gospel Reading).

The First Reading brings us back to the prophecies that illumined this work of God:

Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.

The Second Reading puts this great mystery in its Liturgical, its Eucharistic setting:
We have a great high priest who has passed through the heaven, Jesus, the Son of God; let us hold fast to our confession of faith.

The servant ministry of Jesus is itself the worship that belongs to the Body of Christ, the Church.  All our prayer shares in and flows from the summit of the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is one with the glorified action of Christ at the right hand of the Father.  Our prayer is sitting with Christ in glory; our prayer is Eucharistic in its essence as our surge toward the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit is the eternal life of the Trinity. 

Here in my soul in the Spirit; here in the Church in the Eucharistic Christ, really present; there (really here) in the Father in glory; all are one in the One Presence and the One Glory.

Can we be baptized with the Baptism of Christ?  With the grace and power of that Baptism we can be faithful to the end.  For this we offer Eucharistic celebration.  We share in the Sacrament of Christ’s glory as Son.

Wiliam C. Fredrickson, Obl. (Lay) OSB; D.Min.

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