Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings


Twelfth Week of the Year 

June 24 -29, 2024


\Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist

Readings: Isaiah 49.1-6; Acts of the Apostles 13.22-26; Luke 1.57-66, 80

It is the feast of the birth of John the Baptist.  It is the feast therefore celebrating God’s gift to us of this particular man in the history of salvation. The birth of John begins the events that effected the re-making of the human race. 

In the Eastern Church, the two great icons that surround the gate into the sanctuary are those of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist.  These two persons of history are significant in our own personal history of transformation into Christ.

If I stand now in the sanctifying grace of transfiguration into Christ it is because John the Baptist fulfilled his personal vocation as an instrument in the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

In his own response to God’s initiative, he not only worked out his own transformation, he was also part of the work initiating the Kingdom.  In addition, he stands as a model of that complete surrender into the redeeming grace of Christ Jesus.

In the Second Reading, the seminal sermon of St. Paul proclaiming the Gospel places John the Baptist as the announcer to the presence of the Eternal One incarnate among us.
According to his promise, God brought forth from this man’s descendents Jesus, a savior for Israel.  John heralded the coming of Jesus by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.  … It was to us that this message of salvation was sent forth.

Our prayer should imitate the life and mission of John the Baptist.  Our gaze in prayer is solely and absolutely on the divine Presence in which dwells the mystery of Jesus within the Trinitarian Godhead.  Our prayer is a simple surge of love up into God beyond all the secondary matters of our life.  He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.  He made of me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me.
(First Reading)

We should listen to voice of John. Follow his finger as it points outward to the presence of Jesus, the totality of all that is human called to divine union. We would follow his example.  Gospel Reading: The child grew up and matured in spirit.  He lived in the desert until the day when he made his public appearance in Israel.

This feast is day ripe in the grace of repentance, of renewal, and of conversion.  What graces are present within the Body of Christ on this day as the spirit of John the Baptist wafts through the Church’s members! 

What ever stage or state we are in, there is the ascent before us, to move out and on up into the fuller participation in the mystery of life in the Trinity.  His name is John.  Persistent, no denial, write it down on the scroll as Zechariah did, speak it out as Elizabeth did.  Hold onto the vocation and model found in John the Baptist.  All who heard stored these things up in their hearts, saying, “What will this child be?” and, “Was not the hand of the Lord upon him?”

John, pray for me that I follow more faithfully the way and direct my mind absolutely and singularly into the Presence of Him Who is the Bridegroom and you, the friend of the Bridegroom (John 3. 29-30).

Matthew 7.6,12-14
The silence of prayer gradually creates awe before the mystery of Christ.  Not so haphazardly should we throw around the pearls of the Kingdom.  There are many ferocious people who trample upon anything that has to do with Christ's revelation.  Sensitive to my needs I can be sensitive to the needs of others.  The fruit of prayer is to see others as part of Christ's Body.  All these chapters in Matthew's Sermon on the Mount have detailed the way of Christ.  This following of Christ is not a joy ride.  The door into the Kingdom is demanding; the way is exacting when compared to how easy it is to follow the culture of self-seeking.  The crowds are all there, worshiping the image of the modern, successful, sophisticated, pleasure-assured, the Cosmopolitan Woman, the Esquire Man, the skeptic, the secularized.  Life is found in Christ Jesus.  Outside of Christ’s Way is the wide, sliding road to destruction.

Matthew 7.15-20
Pursuing the practice of prayer I become interested in the writings of those who profess an understanding of the spiritual life.  But I must be aware.  I have been misled many times.  I have been misled because I wanted to be led down a path congenial to my self-pursuits.  Ravenous wolves dressed in the skins of lambs are ready to devour us.  It might be easy to see the direction the New York Times is leading us.  But what about the spiritual writer whose writings are opposed to the general thread of Scripture and is directly hostile to, and ultimately condemnatory of, the Magisterium of the Church? They are wolves in a sheep's clothing leading us away from the Catholic Magisterium through which we can pass into deeper union with God as St. John of the Cross teaches.  The ecclesial obedience of faith is a sure foundation for living the mystery of Christ and his salvation.  Lord Jesus, may my prayer be rooted in grace which is You!  Make me move deeply into the root of Your Spirit.
Matthew 7.21-29
Many times I have heard couples who have broken their relationships say that they never really got to know each other.  True contemplative prayer is basically a deepening relationship with Jesus in the Spirit and with the Father.  But this reading warns me: "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'"  I did all these mighty works in his name; I was so active looking for results.  But really deep down, I never really knew Jesus.  That is bad enough.  But that He never knew me!  Why?  He never really knew me, because I never opened myself up to him; I never surrendered my will to him; I never allowed his Spirit to take over my actions and my thoughts.  Perhaps my prayer was nothing more than confirming my own self.  The fruits of the tree show what the tree is.  Crying out, “Lord, Lord”, with great emotions will not do it.  My conformity to Christ shows itself in the way I act, the way I think, the way I speak, things I avoid.  The fruits of the Holy Spirit show the Spirit's presence.  This is the rock which stays the storm.  This is the wisdom of the wise person who has built his dwelling on Christ's way, concretizing the will of the Father in faith-filled behavior, in trust in his merciful love.

Matthew 8.1-4
This brief passage holds the two poles of deep, contemplative prayer.  The intimacy of the touch of Jesus reaches into all levels of my being.  It reaches into the leprosy of my human condition.  It is personal and mutual.  “If you will, you can make me clean.  I will, be made clean.”  If you will…. I will….  The mutual dialogue of the beloved and the lover is at the heart of love within the intentionality of the will.  Yet the other pole of this being in Jesus is the Church.  The Church is visible and necessary.  The Church is sacrament, that is, it is touched and seen, and listened to.  “Go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift commanded by Moses.”  I must never regard being in the visible Church as a obstacle to intimacy with Jesus in the Spirit .  But, on the other hand, I must never think that the silent freedom of the spirit's opening into the divine union  separates me from the visible, hierarchic, institutional reality of the Church, "the fullness of him who fills all things" (Ephesians 1:23).

June 29

The Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles 

Readings: Acts of the Apostles 12, 1-11; 2Timothy 4.6-8,17-18; Matthew 16.13-19

No Division between Institutional Church and Spirituality

This feast's significance is important for those who are intent upon the path of contemplative prayer.  At the heart of our union with Christ is our union with the Church.  You cannot separate what some call the institutional church from the spiritual, mystical reality of union with God in Christ.

We cannot enter into union with Christ in his word and sacrament, indeed we would never have had contact with Him, unless it was through those who have borne witness to Christ and the Kingdom.  The witness of the Spirit to Christ is carried in the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments. 

The “Handing On,” Tradition, with a capital "T" is entrusted to the apostles and after them, to their successors, the bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome.  In this way, Peter and Paul stand as the great instruments of this work of salvation and deification accomplished in grace, in faith, hope and love. 

The Continuity of Peter and Paul

Peter and Paul would not be here in this 21st century if Christ had not been Incarnate among us and chosen them.  It is true to say that Christ would not be now in the Spirit present to us leading us into the Father if it were not for Peter and Paul and their fidelity to their mission. 

The mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God and the manifestation of the Church, the Bride of Christ, His Mystical Body, are of one divine reality.  This is the plan of our redemption.  Christ is present to the world through the witness of his Apostles, as Church.

The Particularity of Jesus and the Particularity of the Church

As the Word is incarnate in flesh, in the particularity of the Man, Jesus, so the mystery of Christ in the Spirit is incarnate in the particularity of the Church, and in its fullness, in the Catholic Church.

Peter's own personal spirituality, his union with God, is manifested in his confession of faith in the Gospel Reading.  You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  In the mystery of the Church with its gift of hierarchy, that grace of revelation and response becomes ecclesiastical mission.  For my part I declare to you, you are "Rock," and on this rock I will build my Church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.  I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven."

Among the Children of God, One Who Holds the Keys

Jesus is identified with each and every one baptized in him and in his Spirit, but to one is given the keys and upon one is designated the rock upon which the unity and indefectibility of the Church is founded.  That one is St. Peter.  His ministry continues now through the Pope.

What has this to do with my spirit, with my heart's longing for union with God?  It has to do with the foundation of our life in Christ.  The body needs the structure of the bones to hold in place its vital organs and to give mobility.  The structure exists that the vital organs sustain life.  Being creatures who must know to love, who must proclaim the truth out of love, who come to God through His Revelation, we must have the structure of the teaching authority to hand on the Great Teaching that is the Truth and to maintain the unity of Christ's Body.  The structure serves the heart which is the Spirit making alive within us and to the world, the Presence of the Father in his glorified Son.

The Spirit Cannot Be in Opposition to the Word

When we oppose the guiding light of the Teaching Authority then we have error, factions, and schism in the Body of Christ, the Church.  The Spirit who enlightens the Word cannot be in contradiction with Word.

Bearing with the Faults of Those with the Charism of Ministry

When those in the ministry of the Teaching Authority neglect the spiritual life we see a weakened presence of authority, a self-serving use of authority as was evidenced in the recent scandals of the clergy and in the frequency of clericalism.

Today We Celebrate the Gift of Apostolic Authority

What is solemnly celebrated today in the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is the manifestation of holiness with the gift of Apostolic Authority.  The Lord will continue to rescue me from all attempts to do me harm and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.  To him be glory forever and ever.  Amen (Second Reading).

The Church is called in the Letter to the Ephesians, "the fullness of Him who fills all things."  It is the one Spirit and the one Lord who fill the Church and who seek to transform me into the image of Christ.  My surrender must be to those two aspects of the one Mystery of Christ, the spiritual and the visible authority.

Ultimately we are centered into the Father with Christ in the Spirit.  That is the heart of our contemplative prayer founded on the Rock of the Church.  Blest are you, Simon son of John!  Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father (Gospel Reading).

William Fredrickson, OBLSB, D.Min.






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