Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings


Pentecost Sunday and Trinity Sunday; Cycle A 

May 28 and June 4, 2023

Pentecost:  Acts 2. 1-11; First Corinthians 12.3-7; 12-13; John 20.19-23

Feast of the Trinity:  Exodus 34.4-6,8-9; 2nd Corinthians 13.11-13;  John 3. 16-18
Cycle B Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Romans 8:14-17, Mt 28:16-20

Pentecost and Trinity: Light, Life, and Love

Pentecost Sunday and Trinity Sunday are the climax of the Liturgical year. 

The action of Pentecost is the fruit of the Lord Jesus’ ascension into the Divine Presence and his enthronement at the right hand of God  in Glory. Now, the work of the Holy Spirit begins as sanctifier of the Church, completing the work of  restoring all things in Christ, until the Lord’s return in glory.

The ultimate gift from the Mystery of God in Christ Jesus is the Holy Spirit who brings us into the life  of the Holy Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is poured into the Church; the Holy Spirit is also the heart of the Triune God.  Being in the Spirit is to be in the Trinity and to be in communion with the Church.

The first cycle of the Liturgical Year is of Light.  Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and Presentation have to do with the divine Light overcoming the night of our alienation from God.

The second cycle is of Life.  Lent, the Passion and Death, Resurrection, and Ascension have to do with Life overcoming the curse of death caused by sin. 

The third cycle is of Love, concentrated in the feast of Pentecost and in the ensuing time after Pentecost—the so-called Ordinary Time of integrating love into our daily behavior. 

Pentecost Flows from theAscension

Pentecost is the completion of Christ’s ascension.   “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, ‘If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink.  He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”’  Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet been glorified” (John 7.37-39). 

This process of being filled with the Spirit commences on the evening of the first day of Jesus’ glory: 

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.  Then he breathed on them and said:  Receive the Holy Spirit  (Gospel of Pentecost).

Then fifty days later, Pentecost is the definitive birth of the Church’s fullness. 

Suddenly from up in the sky there came a noise like a strong, driving wind which was heard all through the house where they were seated.  Tongues as of fire appeared which parted and came to rest on each of them.  All were filled with the Holy Spirit.  They began to express themselves in foreign tongues and made bold proclamations as the Spirit prompted them (The First Reading of Pentecost.

The Contemplative Life: Born at Pentecost

This sharing in the divine life of love is at the heart of Christian life, finding its summit in contemplation.  At the deepest level of divine union, we participate in the divine life of love through the immediacy of the Spirit’s Presence within our consciousness.  The Holy Spirit is present to the very core of our personhood, our deepest level of soul.  In a participative way the Holy Spirit becomes our soul, the principle of our being and becoming (See 1st Corinthians 2.6-13).  In this exchange of divine love, however, there is no absorption into God as if to lose our identity as distinct, unique creations.  Our souls are not illusions. The soul is real; it is unique as a creation of God, the source of our personhood.

The Holy Spirit brings us into union with Jesus:

No one can say: “Jesus is Lord,” except in the Holy Spirit.  It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free were baptized into one body (Second Reading of Pentecost). 

The Mystery of the Church: The Source of Divine Union

Remember that union with God comes to us, not in an isolated way in a cold starry solitude nor in an absolute silence, but in the mystery of Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, in Word and Sacrament.  The birth of the Church and the birth of our new life are one.  We are one with the Spirit because of Church. And Church is because of the indwelling of the Spirit in individual members.  Thus, prayer is never a private matter, nor a spiritual entity divorced from the particularity and concrete identity of the Church.

The Holy Spirit leads us into a relational participation in the love-life of the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is the mutual breath of the Father and the Son.  The Spirit is Their Love.  Sharing in the Holy Spirit we share in the divine life of the Trinity. 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (The Second Reading of Trinity Sunday A).
For we did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship.  When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Second Reading B)

The Holy Spirit brings fellowship, fellowship in the Trinitarian life, fellowship in the Church.  The same obediential surrender that is in the Trinity, is within the souls of those in grace, and within the union with the Church.

The Sacrament of the Trinity is the Church.  Practically speaking we touch the life of the Trinity through the visibility of the Church in the sacraments and in the handing on of Revelation given in Tradition.  From the very beginning, the divine Eros of the Trinity moved forward to the formation of the mystery of the Church, “the fullness of Him who fills all things” (Ephesians, 1.11-23).”

Moses in ecstasy knows that he and the people of God together belong to Israel, the Church of God.  This is a type of the final perfection of the Israel of God, the Church of Christ. 

If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company.  This is, indeed, a stiff-necked people, yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own  (First Reading of Trinity Sunday).

Did any people even hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of fire, as you have heard, and still live?

Jesus, the Church, the Sacraments

All sacraments are visible and particular in their signs.  The Church is the prime sacrament of the life of the Trinity. So it is that the Church is visible and, touchable and immersed in history, and embedded in the human condition.   The Word is made incarnate and is eternally the risen and ascended Jesus.  The particularity of Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter’s son, now in glory, is the model of the particularity of the Church. 

When the day of Pentecost came it found the brethren gathered in one place (First Reading of Pentecost).

Though the Church of Christ is invisible in aspects of its mystery, it is also visible.   The Church must always possess its particularity as a sacrament. 

The Church is visible in its institution of the service of apostolic hierarchy and in the proclaimed doctrine of faith.  Thus, the Church can protect its sacramental life, especially the Holy Eucharist, wherein the divine sharing in the life of God is celebrated and dispensed within the Church. 

The Church then stands as the sign to all peoples of all places and times—it is thus that the Church is Catholic.  The Church remains faithful to its fonts of apostolic teaching through the Petrine ministry of the Roman bishop with whom all the bishops are united in communion—thus the Church is universal.

Pentecost: God’s Final Embrace of the Human Family for Salvation

Pentecost reigns throughout all humanity and history because of the Holy Spirit and the power of redemption flowing from the wounds of Jesus, the Savior of all peoples.  Who knows of this wonder of grace’s re-creation?  Only the wisdom, hidden from all ages in the bosom of the Triune God, and now given as Revelation within the Church, holds the fullness of revelation. The Church in the power of the Holy Spirit can meet each crisis of doctrinal faith and schismatic rebellion in history so that the gates of hell do not prevail.

This week of Pentecost and Trinity is therefore the climax of the mystery that is at the heart of our Christian life and the source of our Christian mystical life

The Call to the Contemplative Path

We have determined in the Spirit that we have been called to the contemplative path.  In following this path, we hold the Blessed Virgin Mary as our mother and model in opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit.  It is with her that we sit in prayer and wait the ever-renewed gift of the Holy Spirit.  “All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren (Acts of the Apostles 1.14).  Like Mary, we sit with Christ in the glory of the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The experience is in unknowing, not in an intellectual grasp but in love, beyond our ability to form concepts or hold it in the imagination.  The wisdom of the Trinitarian life is the light of God’s glory shining on the face of Christ within our hearts.  The divine love of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is the guarantor of our final resurrection into the fullness of light, life, and love.

--William Fredrickson, (OblSB; D.Min.)