Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings


The Meditation


Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Cycle A, February 16, 2020
Readings: Sirach 15; 1st Corinthians 2.6-10;  Matthew 5.17-37
Spirituality and Institutional Religion: A False Dichotomy
Spirit and doctrine—do we have to make a choice between them?  Is spirit really in conflict with dogma?  Is a person either of the spirit or of the institutional Church.  Is it an “either-or” between those who wish to feel the movements of the spirit and those who hold to the words of Scripture and the full, catholic, and apostolic  doctrine of the Church?
We say no.  The deepest level of Christian mysticism has always flourished within the greatest orthodoxy of the Church.  The mystic is liberated by his or her obedience to the visible, institutional authority of the one Church, the Bride of Christ.
The contemplative must be faithful to the orthodox Catholic Magisterium, embracing the Revealed Word but at the same time must always live in the ebb and flow of the Living Spirit. 
In the Trinity, the Word and the Spirit both proceed from the Father and are sent among us to redeem us, to transform us, to lead us into eternal union with the Triune God.  The Teaching Word and the Fiery Spirit both inhabit the Church and we must be subject to both in Their harmony.
The Gospel Reading:The Law and Its Fulfillment
In the Gospel Reading Jesus speaks of the written Word of the Old Testament.  He gives us the answer to the questions we posed above: 
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets?  I have come, not to abolish them, but to fulfill them.
The Word is among us, Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God. The Spirit is present in Him.  In Jesus, the objective, given Word, and the moving, unbounded, Spirit are one.  The Word and the Spirit are distinct, being both of the Trinity, but they are one, being both God.  Love harmonizes the union of what seem opposites.  The written, objective Word as the extension of Jesus and the movements of the Living Spirit are one.
The True Contemplative Lives in the Oneness of Doctrine and Spirit: Foreshadowing from the First Reading
As a contemplative I take into my hands the Sacred Scripture living in the Magisterium of the Church and know that I have the objective, guiding Truth for my behavior.  To refuse to obey the moral doctrine and to refuse to believe in the dogma is not of the Spirit of God but of the one who is in perpetual rebellion against God, the prince of liars. 
If you choose you can keep the commandments, it is loyalty to do his will.  There are set before you fire and water, to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.  Before man are life and death, whichever he chooses shall be given him (the First Reading).
The Second Reading: Ultimate Wisdom
The contemplative dimension experiences the unity of the Word and Spirit.  St. Paul tells us that if we are in Christ’s Spirit we live in wisdom.  Holy Wisdom unites knowledge and love: 
A certain Wisdom which we express among the spiritually mature (the Second Reading).
Wisdom comes not from the powers of human nature nor from the accepted tenets of a dominant culture. 
It is not a wisdom of this age, however, nor of the rulers of this age who are men headed for destruction. [This wisdom is of the Holy Spirit.]  Yet God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit.  The Spirit scrutinizes all matters, even the deep things of God. 
In grace the Holy Spirit brings us into the depths of the Divine Triune life.  There we surrender to God as Word and Spirit.  This is Wisdom.  This is contemplative payer and life.
Spontaneity of Spirit and Guidance of Doctrine
The Gospel Reading answers the question in the sayings of Jesus.   A person seeking to live in Christ cannot merely live out of the spontaneity of his or her own reasoning, even if it is experienced as spiritual.
Jesus calls us away from disobedience; it is the root of our separation from the Spirit of God.  This is implied as an extension in what Jesus says:
  That is why whoever breaks the least significant of these commands and teaches others to do so shall be called least in the Kingdom of God (Gospel Reading).
The essence of our life is union with Jesus in the Spirit. 
I tell you, unless your holiness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees you shall not enter the Kingdom of God (Gospel Reading).
The Spirit does not abolish the objective Word.  You shall not commit adultery” remains as God’s written commandment.  The Spirit keeps the Word intact but then moves us to a deeper grasp of that Scripture.  What I say to you is, anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his thoughts.
It is the same with the commandment against murder.  The Scripture stands but the Spirit of Jesus brings us to the most delicate quality of relationship with others especially in the moments of anger. 
What I say to you is: Everyone who grows angry with his bother will be liable to judgment.
The Safety of the Church’s Magisterium
Within the parameters of the Magisterium of Christ’s Teaching Church, we must allow the Holy Spirit to bring us into all the nuances of the Teaching Word.  The Spirit tests where we have moved in our spontaneity and freedom in Christ.  Infinite are the possibilities in the Spirit but always in the parameters of the Word.  Spirit never contradicts the given written Word.  One never is in disobedience to the other—that is, if we have the holiness that surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees.
The holiness that is real is the holiness of Jesus which is the Holy Spirit. 
Yet God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit.  The Spirit scrutinizes all matters, even the deep things of God. (Second Reading).
Let me repeat the admonition of St. John of the Cross quoted last Sunday. “Let us treasure none of them [i.e. our own ideas, visions etc.], but think only of learning to direct our will determinedly to God, fulfilling His law and His holy counsels perfectly, which is the wisdom of the Saints, and contenting ourselves with knowing the mysteries and truths with the simplicity and truth wherewith the Church sets them before us (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, II, XXIX, 12).
The Unity and Wholeness of the Liturgy
The Word and Spirit are celebrated and effected in the Holy Eucharist.  The Written and Spoken Word, the sacramental signs of bread and wine, the presence of the hierarchical Church in the bishop or priest and the liturgical prayers, the baptized, priestly people of Christ gathered in assembly:  these are all the objective, definite realities and forms we can touch and see and give ourselves over to.  Then in mystery hovering over all of them and entering into all is the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit takes the locus of our hearts, the locus of the assembly and makes them one with the locus of the heavenly liturgy.  This heavenly liturgy is celebrated in the Triune God through the risen and ascended Christ from Whom the Spirit descends and makes it all real and true among us and in us.  Our Amen is one with Mary and the Saints; our Amen in Liturgy is the same Amen of our contemplative prayer.  It is the Amen of the liturgy in heaven where God is All in all in the Word and the Spirit. 

William Fredrickson, Obl. Secular OSB; D.Min.


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William Frederickson