Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings

Following are meditations for two Sundays:

15th and 16th Sundays in Ordinary Time

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle   B, July 15, 2018

Meditation on the Liturgical Readings:

First Reading: Amos 7.12-15

The ministry of the prophetic office begins when we surrender to God and God uses us as He wills.  I can’t wake-up some morning and decide: I am going to be a prophet.  The initiative is God’s:  Grace and our freedom to cooperate join in the mystery of vocation. 

·. And what is a prophet ?  The prophet is one who speaks for God, who communicates God’s way to people who are set upon a way that is contrary to God’s way;  who encourages people already on the Way; or  who points out new directions.  

·. God’s way is manifest in the Revelation of Jesus, the Son of God and the Savior.  Revelation shines forth in Sacred Scripture, in the Magisterium of the Church, in the life and works of the Saints.  The Revelation is all alive and active in the Living Tradition, the Handing On of the contents of Revelation in the Church, the organically united, hierarchical, sacramental Body of Christ, visible and centered in the Catholic Church. Vatican II states that the Church of Christ visibly subsists in the Catholic Church.

·. The Prophet becomes such by his or her immersion into the mystery of this Revelation, so that living Revelation becomes real in the life and words of the Prophet.  Prayer at its deepest is always open to the prophetic movement.  The act of silent, contemplative prayer, seeking to be absorbed in God is of itself deeply prophetic. 

·. Many times a tension exists between the prophet and middle-levels of church hierarchy.  The final judgment of the Church settles the elements of the conflict so the Church can remain in unity of direction, united to the apostolic origins.  The contemplative trusts in the living authority of Christ within the Church.  The final outcome will be drawn out in the course of time, over the years or even, over  generations.  Prayer brings us into that abandonment to God’s process of  Revelation.

·. The contemplative is prophetic by the very practice of prayer.  The life of deep prayer and the absolute abandonment to the Triune God and to the Incarnate Son Crucified are so “counter-culture”.  One who lives each day in the loving Face of God confounds the cultural message of self-development and self-absolute autonomy. 

·. Who, me a prophet?  The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people, Israel.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1.3-14

Each day we seek to enter into the silent prayer of the heart.  The simple return to the Divine Presence and Work of God within us is the absolute intentionality of surrender to God in the grace and love of Christ within us.  If we ever want to remind ourselves of the content of our simple intentionality in the exercise of contemplative  prayer, this second reading is ideal. 

With utter abandon we can sink into these words of the Second Reading.  The words are a testimony to two aspects of Revelation and the manner of our reception.  First is Affirmation (or Kataphatic) and the second is Unknowing (Apophatic).  They are complementary in receiving the fullness of Revealed Truth, the Word proceeding from the very Mouth of God.  These words are also completely beyond us:  Only the love of Christ outpoured by the Holy Spirit can truly “read and proclaim” them—Only love deep in the heart, beyond the conceptual grasp, can fully express them.

·. The simplicity of our life with God in based on the saving action of Jesus.  “Jesus saves!”  This is the refrain of the contemplative.  The grace of union and contemplative prayer is given in spite of our sinfulness.   It is in Christ and through his blood that we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven, so immeasurable generous is God’s favor to us.

In all wisdom and insight, he has make known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.

Gospel Reading: Mark 6.7-13

Off they go!  Jesus sends out the Twelve, two by two.  Each pair goes out, a mini-church,--where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst.  They go out with minimal baggage, showing in their life style the simplicity of the Gospel, the non-attachment that is required if we are going to be able to enter the Kingdom of God.

Love puts the contemplative at the heart of the Church.  St. Therese of Lisieux is the model of the vocation to be love at the center of the Church.  Most of us have some apostolate; very few are cloistered or absolute hermits.  Whatever it is, our apostolate is limited.  Perhaps it is limited to the family, local parish, or place of work.  The point is that whatever the extent or the form of our apostolate we are at the heart of the universal apostolate of the Church when we are in contemplative prayer.  In prayer we are one with the Work of Salvation.  As we go off to our place and time of prayer we go off because we are sent by the Lord Jesus to complete His Work here at this time united with the mystical time of the Kingdom:  In the Church the Kingdom has already arrived and is arriving and will arrive perfect in the perfection of Christ’s Resurrection.

“Take nothing on the journey.” 

Each time we gently return by means of the Sacred Word  to the intention of being in God’s Presence and Work is the forsaking of all created things so that we may be one with the absolute of the Gospel Mission to bring the Kingdom of God to all.

The Responsorial Psalm
Kindness and truth shall meet; Justice and Peace shall kiss. 

This psalm is used much in the Advent season.  Our contemplative prayer is always Advent.  The quiet and deep longing for cosmic light;  the prayer for the coming of that Kingdom when all the opposites will be reconciled.  Truth will be real and it will be kind; justice will be established and it will bring peace.  Only Christ’s Kingdom can accomplish this.  The eros of urgency compels us:  One cannot, should not wait!  The contemplative reality knows that there is a struggle for peace and justice in kindness, but that Kingdom will come only in the full manifestation of Christ.

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, July 22, 2018

Readings:  Jeremiah 23.1-6; Ephesians. 2.13-18; Mark 6.30-34

The First Reading: Jeremiah 23.1-6

God works in the practice of contemplative prayer to gather us into divine union, concretized in the visible lines of the Church: I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow.

At the depths of our prayer is the simple surrender to God’s initiative of healing us and integrating us in the image of the Only Begotten Son.  Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely. … This is the name they give him: “The Lord our justice.”

Following the contemplative path a temptation looms up.  It tries to separate the spiritual from the institutional aspect of Christ’s mystical body, the Church.

 We can find it jarring to hear versions of the word preached that are clearly outside the guidance of the Magisterium.  The shepherd is in rebellion against the Living Tradition of the  Church.  
In our contemplative prayer of silence and union we are  seeking the grace of healing.  In particular we seek the grace to heal the wounds of rebellion and intellectual arrogance.  The “righteous shoot to David”  is the Lord Jesus who is present in the fullness of the Church.  It is into the Church that we recognize the face of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Father, in Whom, i.e. in the Spirit, we are able to see the Face of Jesus, who then in turn reveals the Father.  Ultimately it is in our return to the Inner Anointing and the Ecclesial Affirmation of the full Mystery of Christ that we can be received into the Christ, the source of union.

Second Reading: Ephesians. 2.13-18 

“In Christ Jesus” is the recurring refrain proclaimed in this letter to the Ephesians.

It is the Sacred Word into which we surrender in the simplicity of prayer.  
I know how far off  I have been from the center of God.  The memory is constant; the memory of my sins and the state of sin.  Only the Blood of Christ heals me of the sin. 

Now we live in the Presence of the Triune Circumincession: the Father in the Son in the Holy Spirit.  It is in the Blood of Christ that we have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Reconciliation: One mystic describes it this way.  In our reconciliation with God through Jesus, we kiss his feet in begging forgiveness; we kiss his hand as we give ourselves into discipleship; we kiss his mouth in divine love as we become one with him in the Spirit:  Reconciliation.

To create in himself one new man.  In our prayer we sense the Presence of the Word Who is the image and the likeness of our true self-becoming.  In Jesus we constantly experience newness, re-birth.  Especially newness is present when we experience in a vivid way or over a period of time the full depths of our wretchedness, a transforming  light comes up from our depths.  The spring flowing within us begins to bubble with refreshing water.  It’s all morning brightness, a new day, a new creation.  We were so far off.  Now he is in us and we in him.  One of the silent prayers before Holy Communion says: “Never permit us from being separated from You, Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit.”
The Gospel: Mark 6.30-34

The needs of our brethren call us from prayer time and place to real ministering to others in here and now situations.  The call to go apart and to rest in God, to make Sabbath is a constant call from God.  Since it is His call, it is His gift too.  A delicate balancing is required for rest in God and serving God in others.

Jesus said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

Each time we seek out the time and place where we practice the exercise of contemplative prayer, we answer this intimate invitation of the Lord; and ultimately and inevitably find the rest in his presence.

In the power of true love in prayer we minister to the needs of all people.  True contemplative prayer is one with the prayer of Jesus:  “If I be lifted up, I will draw all things to me.”  In the silence and solitude of contemplative living we are never separated from “the maddening crowd.”  We are constantly aware of the needful human condition which all the members of the human family bear.  The clamor and heart of our inner self reflects the state of all creation groaning for deliverance.  The simple intention of consenting to the Presence and Work of the Father bears in itself the intention of sharing in the redemption of the human family and all creation.

Our prayer makes us disposed to go anywhere, do anything for the Kingdom.
The Responsorial Psalm               Psalm 23. 1-3, 3-,5,6
                “In verdant pastures he gives me repose.”:  That is the expectation of pure contemplative prayer:  Repose in God.


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

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