Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings

First Week of Lent, February 19 - 24, 20

Matthew 25.31-46
The disciplines of prayer in our contemplative practice should not conflict with the requirements of tending to the needy. On the one hand, prayer is not a preparation for the apostolic ministry; it stands in its own right. Then, on the other hand, caring for others is not a mere ornament to a prayerful life. Ministry, and especially practical ministry to the needy, is the place of the mystical union of Christ with his Body. When we pray and serve others then we are in Christ, at the center of the Trinity, fully and simply, in the Holy Spirit. Both actions have one center. The center is the Kingdom of God. Christ is enthroned in the center of that Kingdom, "when He will sit upon His throne." All must lead to that center point where Christ will bring all creation to the Father, and God will be all in all.

Matthew 6.7-15
If we lived the simplicity of the Gospel, could we not recite from our hearts the “Our Father” as our basic and essential prayer? We say yes to that because it was Jesus who left us the prayer at the request of his disciples: “Teach us to pray.” There is no other summit of prayer than in the Spirit to embrace the petitions and benedictions of the “Our Father” at all levels of consciousness. However, no one citation of Scripture exhausts a theme of revelation. Therefore, we pray the psalms, especially in the Liturgy of the Hours because they too are inspired prayers. We also enter into the prayer of silence because it is only the Holy Spirit who can teach us to pray in the unutterable longings of the heart. And most profoundly, the Holy Eucharist in its Word and Sacrament is the fullest mystical moment of the Church. The Holy Eucharist embraces the “Our Father” and brings us even further into the depths of union. All prayer in the final analysis will model and carry the depths of the “Our Father.” Contemplative prayer becomes the intimate prayer to the Father with Jesus in the Holy Spirit, as we share Trinitarian life. We become the “Our Father.” God prays the Our Father in us by the Spirit given us.

Luke 11.29-32
Behold a greater than Solomon is here. Behold a greater than Jonah is here. Christ Jesus is infinitely greater than the king and the prophet. Yet, here, we have Jesus present to us even now in the Holy Spirit in our prayer. He calls us to embrace his wisdom, a wisdom greater than Solomon's. He calls us to repentance; a repentance more far reaching than Jonah's. It is a wisdom that shares in the divine life so that we experience the life of the Holy Trinity; it is a repentance that regenerates us in Baptism or in Reconciliation-confession. But in the face of this Revelation, we seek signs that satisfy our own self-reliance. We focus on our own experience and intellectuality. Prayer, true prayer, will bring us to surrender to "that something greater in our midst.” Whatever in our life that engages us, Christ is something greater than that engagement. Each time we come to prayer we are saying: "Yes" to that Something Greater.

Thursday (jFeast of the Chair of St. Peter; meditation on the Gospel of the week.)

Matthew 7.7-12
“Ask,” “seek,” “knock” are the action words of prayer. This is an aggressive, bold-like, stance before God. No sitting demurely, embarrassed; no waiting around to be asked; no tolerating being on the outside of the door. Passivity and receptivity mean only our complete dependence on the grace to pray. After all, it is God who really prays within us. Only the Spirit of Christ can pray within us and move us to ask, to seek, and to knock. Our action comes from our own center in cooperation with the Spirit. In contemplative prayer it all becomes one simple movement, one simple resting in: the request fulfilled, the Beloved found, and the door opened. God is the good Father who gives the bread with the fish and who multiplies them for the multitude that asks, seeks and knocks.

Matthew 5.20-26
Grace makes us to share in the resurrection of Christ so that we are truly, concretely in the Kingdom of God: this state is righteousness, a gift in Christ. But righteousness is not fully realized until our final passing over to God in the likeness of Christ's death and in the final coming of the Kingdom in the general resurrection. Our righteousness then is always more than the legal adherence of the Scribes and Pharisees. Our righteousness is found in the transforming grace of Christ as gift. However, the story is not complete. We are still in the struggle; we have not yet finished the race. We take to heart the warning of Jesus: "Unless your righteousness exceeds ….” We must continue to grow. For this reason we pray. For this reason we are purified in love by forgiving our enemies. Our prayer is lived out in forgiveness received and given: forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Matthew 5.43-48
"You have heard it said." At one conscious level we follow pre-recorded counsels--we hear certain judgments that influence our behavior. But prayer separates us from these inadequate judgments. "But I say to you" is the invitation of purifying, transforming prayer to go deeper into the life of Christ who is perfect love. Jesus is the perfect love of the Father made manifest. It is perfect in the sense that it is complete, absolute, and final. It is the love of Jesus on the cross. The cross is "But I say to you." To love our enemies in the face of their hatred and harmful actions is the love that is in the Father and made manifest in the Son. This is our prayer: love forever lived-out. 

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

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