Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings


The Seventh Week of Easter
May 17 - 22, 2021

John 16.29-33
Sometimes in prayer we feel alone.  This feeling  is really a temptation.  Some can suffer chemical imbalances that cause depression.  They are to be treated medically.  But in the midst of these despondent feelings, somewhere in our consciousness, the Holy Spirit illumines us with the Presence of Jesus, Risen and Ascended.  We must cling to. the Gift of light.  Really, we are never alone because in Christ the Father is with us in the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Never does the Father abandon us as long as we cling to the light and resist falling into deliberate sin.  Even then we can come back again into the Presence in grace through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  These are living words: “in Christ we may have peace.”  In the world which is without Christ we are going to have problems.  But be of good cheer even in your affliction because Jesus has overcome the world.  The One who is within is greater than the world which is outside.  Prayer is abiding in that One who is in glorious light and has overcome the world even as we suffer tribulations in the world.

(John 17 is presented in three parts over the next three weekdays.)

John 17.1-11
Jesus taught us to pray in the "Our Father", a vocal prayer that invokes  a contemplative route into God.  John 17 is the "Our Father" revealing  the Holy Trinity and our union with the Trinity.   This portion of John 17,1-11, has to do with Jesus' union with the Father and his achieving the glory of resurrection and ascension.  Again, the ominous "world" hovers about.  The world is not the earth, nor people in themselves.  The world is the systematic rejection of, and the militant stance against, the Mystery of the Trinity and the salvific work of Christ's redemptive death and resurrection.  We must live into the Trinitarian life within the sacrament of the Church.  Meanwhile, we are on a pilgrimage through the world that sometimes serves as a vestige of God and sometimes as a vehicle of distraction.  Ultimately it all comes together so that nothing is excluded in God's plan. Looming before is that fact that we are capable of willing our exclusion from the Kingdom.  Let the words of John 17 in its depth and simplicity become the pattern of our prayer.

John 17.11-19
In this portion of John 17.11-19, Jesus prays for the Apostles.  The Apostolic College forms the hierarchy of Christ's Church.  What does Christ ask for them?  Most of all that they be consecrated in the truth.  And that they may be truly consecrated.  The words of Jesus consecrate them.  The words of Jesus become the consecrated Tradition that the Apostles must preach and hand on to the Church through their successors.  The body of faith becomes our light of truth. The Apostles  cannot be of the world, but at the same time they must be in the world.  They must be guarded against the evil one who would sift them like wheat.  Our prayer must be always at the heart of the Church.  Our prayer must be love at the center of the Church.  We must carry the fullness of the Church in our prayer.  Prayer is never in solitude.  All prayer is prayer of the Church.  Jesus consecrates himself in the oblation of the cross and in the power of his glory.  Our baptism consecrates us with Christ.  We form the priestly people.  We pray as priests.  We continue the prayer of Christ, the Head of His Body, the Church, especially in the Sacrifice of the Mass.

John 17.20-26
The word of Jesus has come to us through the Apostles, and now envelopes us into the life of the Trinity.  Christ prays for us who are the contemporary members of his Church.  He prays here that we share in the divine intimacy that is the life of God the Trinity.  Jesus lives now in us ever expressing this prayer of John 17.  This portion, vv. 20 -26 concerns us who are the believers at this time in history.  Even now at this moment Jesus prays in us so that we can pray.  Praying in the power of Jesus is to be in God, to behold his glory, to share in his joy.  The gift of contemplative prayer is to be immediately conscious that we are so united in Christ that we do not look upon God as another object outside of ourselves.  But we experience that our inner workings of consciousness are the knowing and loving, and feeling of the Trinity.  Love does all this.  God's love poured forth by the Holy Spirit creates prayer within us.  We pray only because we are already alive in God.  Jesus prayed for this gift.  In him we have received the gift of our sharing in the Trinitarian life.

John 21.15-19
Prayer is the experience of grace.  I pray because grace enlivens me with the life of the Son.  Grace is the gift of absolute possession of my most intimate being by the Holy Trinity.  Grace is liberation and communion.  I am who I truly am only in the absoluteness of grace.  In this Gospel I witness the work of grace in Peter's soul and its manifestation in the confession of the heart in the words of sincere love--which is prayer.  In their dialogue Jesus and Peter are at prayer and we witness it.  Do you love me?  I love you.  You know that I love you because your gaze penetrates the deepest point of my heart.  And I accept mission.  I am in communion in the Church with all the members of Christ's Body.  Feed my sheep.  I am witness to the commission of the visible head of the Church in the Petrine ministry.  At the heart of the Apostolic Succession is the demand of love and grace.  Institution and grace, religion and spirituality are one, as spirit in soul in body. Further, could it be that this phrase from this Gospel, “I love you” (three syllables only) could be a sacred word in the exercise of silent prayer?

John 21.20-25
Prayer gathers up the opposites in my life, weaving together  contradictions in the act of love in grace: Youth and old age, self-direction and submission, going where one wills and being constrained, my will and another's will.  My death is the ultimate possibility of my glorifying God.  The last weekday Gospel of the Paschal Season brings me back to the beginning of the season.  Remember that you are dust and into dust you shall return.  But now because of the complete and full mystery of Jesus my death is glory because my death is resurrection in Christ Jesus, in the Spirit of Love, in the bosom of the Father, and in the communion of the Church, the visible sign of the ultimate, absolute, and invisible reality.

William Fredrickson, Obl. Sec. OSB, D.Min.



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