Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings



Twentieth Week, August 19 - 24, 2019
Matthew 19.16-22
From the very beginning of this Gospel, Jesus pulls the inquiring young man into the poverty of the Son of Man.  "Why do you ask me about what is good?  One there is who is good."  Jesus acts out here the emptying that St. Paul proclaims in Philippians 2.  Jesus empties himself and is found in the form of a man, a slave, who dies on the cross.  He does not cling to his divinity.  “Why do you ask me …?  One there is who is good.”  True prayer brings me into the poverty of Jesus, the emptying of self.  Prayer can't be about self fulfillment.  Prayer must first lead me into obedience to the commandments that exact moral integrity.  It must lead me into the divesting of material trappings and diversions by which I cling to self through the excitement of acquisition.  In that process of emptying I begin to follow Jesus and become familiar and intimate in his Presence.  Ultimately, through Christ's poverty, I am led by the Holy Spirit into the divinity of the Word within the bosom of the Father, the fullness of goodness, truth and beauty.  Always it is the Person of Jesus in Himself that is at the center since He is the center.
Matthew 19.23-30
The one who welcomes me into the Kingdom is the crucified Savior.  He is poor and naked upon the cross.  If I come rich and bedecked with the splendor and glory of acquisitions of what money can buy, then how am I to become part of such a One?  Prayer must reveal this contradiction.  Prayer must awaken in me such a thirst for the divine Presence within the Crucified Christ that I will divest myself of at least the desire for the trappings of wealth that I may dwell in His Presence.  In that Presence are all the beauty and goodness that the world could ever think to buy.  The Presence is ours without having to purchase it.  It is gift coming from the Father of lights.  Peter asked, "What then shall we have?"  To have been present at the Transfiguration, Peter must certainly have answered his own question:  I have the fullness of life in the revelation of Jesus, the Beloved Son.  What renunciation can be compared with the vision of the face of Christ in glory, along with sharing in his cross?  How is all this possible?  With God it is possible.  The Father draws us in his grace.  My prayer is cooperation in this beautiful exchange.
Matthew 20.1-16
When in my life did the call come to enter into the Kingdom of Jesus?  At what time of day, at what age, at what phase of my life?  Do I calculate my reward, my wages for service well-done, for bearing the heat of the day?  Is my prayer a quid pro quo?  Did the Spirit of Christ negotiate with me for a just wage as was the case with the first to be called to work in this parable?  Notice that the owner of the vineyard negotiates only with the first group.  Then with the second group, he merely says that the workers will receive a just wage.  With the other groups he just tells them to go into the vineyard.  Where am I among the laborers in the Kingdom?  Have I just now come in, rescued from the emptiness of the world?  Am I a faithful servant who has followed faithfully the word of the Lord for all my life?  Am I now becoming more like a friend happy to be where the Beloved One is?  Am I a beloved of the Lord, one with the Kingdom, the Work of God and one with the Spirit that fills the Kingdom so that what is His is mine?  At the base of my prayer is growth into the Kingdom so much so that there is only the Glory of God that consumes me.  It is a matter of grace, not wages.   It is presence not reward.
Thursday (Memorial 0f the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary; meditation on the weekday Gospel.)
Matthew 22.1-14
To be invited into the Kingdom is to feast in the presence of the Father in Jesus through the Spirit.  It is to experience the gradual possession of my person by the Spirit of Jesus.  Come to the wedding feast of the Son!  Make no excuses.  Attachment to the world, its allure, its diversions, and its rule of life hinder me from completely entering into the marriage feast of the Kingdom.  The habit of prayer is the grace to surrender to the invitation to be in the Kingdom.  Prayer, however, does not fulfill its purpose unless I am in what used to be commonly referred to in the Church as the state of grace.  To be in the state of grace means that I am in my baptismal innocence or in my restored innocence through the sacrament of Reconciliation-Penance; it means that I am in the state of divine charity infused by the Holy Spirit.  "He saw there a man without a wedding garment."  You are not in the Kingdom unless you are in grace.  You can pray while outside looking through the window of the marriage feast's banquet hall.  But the prayer of union does not exist until we are part of the process of grace, sharing in the divine life of the Trinity, the wedding garment of our marriage feast in the Kingdom.
Matthew 22.34-40
"All your heart."  "All your soul."  "All your mind."  These words of the Gospel refer to the internal workings of my person-soul-body.  Love comes from the interior consciousness of understanding and willing.  Prayer is heart, soul, mind lifted by the grace of the Holy Spirit into the mystery of the Triune God through the mystery of Christ Jesus.  Prayer is my surrender to the great commandment that the Spirit is working within me; the Spirit fulfills for me the commandment to love God totally.  On my part, I must consent, surrender into the process already begun and continues here in this life and at this moment, now, also in heaven.  Prayer makes it all one, in one moment, in one act.  The rhythm of life is very simple.  From prayer I go among people to live out the love I have experienced in prayer, in the secret happenings of grace.  "The second is like the first."  Love your neighbor as yourself.  It is love, the interior life of the spirit, directed in prayer and directed in our relationship with others.  It's all very simple, this matter of prayer and work.
Saturday (Feast of St. Bartholomew; meditation on the weekday Gospel.)
Matthew 23.1-12
In the communion of the Church there is the seat of teaching authority.  It is the "cathedra' of the Bishop of Rome and the college of each bishop in communion with him and one another.  The teaching of Christ will always reach us in that Magisterium.  The emphasis here in this Gospel reading is the practice.  To  assimilate the teaching into practice is the whole of the law and prophets.  Although there is authority in the Church, it is Christ himself who holds the prime chair of teaching and is the source of doctrine.  He is the teacher.  He is the source of the Christian life.  That life flows through him from the Father.  We are all brothers and sisters in this communion of light, life and love.  Although some exercise the ministerial office of teacher and ruler, the Church as a whole is the continuation of the ministry of Christ.  Prayer prepares the heart to receive the teaching and to treat others with deference and humility born out of love.


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


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