Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings

Twentieth Week of the Year

August 15 - 20, 2022


The Solemn Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; August 15

Enter into the prayer process of Lectio Divina.  Invoke the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus our Savior and Lord, praying that the words of this portion of Sacred Scripture become as fire to penetrate your heart and bring the divine presence into your deepest consciousness.

1.  Lectio-Reading:
Read the text as for the first time, seeking to receive the words in their literal meaning.
The Text is the First Reading, from the Book of Revelation 11.19; 12.1-6, 10, (RSV):

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple….  And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.  And another portent appeared in heaven; behold a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads.  His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth.  And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days….  And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come.”

Commentary on the text:

The reference to the “temple” brings us into the mystery of Jesus as the fulfillment of Israel.  Jesus is the Temple resurrected and glorious, one with the new Israel, the Church.  In the Book of Revelation the Church is seen in its glory and its struggles.  Revelation reads in the genre of the poetic epic of drama. 
The “great portent [sign] in heaven,” the “woman,” is either the Blessed Virgin Mary or the true Israel, the Church.  Catholic Tradition sees the Blessed Mary as the perfect symbol of Israel and the Church.  She is the antithesis of the harlot of ch. 17, for she is a radiant bride (Song, 6.4), adorned  with splendor.  The “twelve stars” indicate the twelve tribes of Israel, and in extension, the twelve Apostles upon whom the Church is founded..  “The moon under her feet” symbolizes her preeminence among all that is created.  Her birth-giving is that of the Messiah and she bears other offspring as well (v. 17), a likely reference to the Church.  The dragon is Satan.  He is the source of all sin, evil, persecution and suffering in the world.  In Jewish tradition, the snake and the dragon symbolized the power of evil, the enemy of God and his people which God is to destroy at the end of time.  His seven heads with their diadems and his ten horns represent the great power Satan has in this world in causing hard times for the Christ in the time of his journey and now for God’s people.  The concluding verses show the ultimate victory that is God’s and his Christ’s.

Read the text again.  This time seek its application and meaning in your life.

The teaching that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven after her death in the pattern of Christ’s resurrection and ascension, like the doctrine of her Immaculate Conception (freedom from all sin from the very moment of her conception), are comparatively recent definitions of the Church.  The Church has held these teachings from the earliest days amid theological debate and variations of expressions.  But now the matter has been settled and they are among the essential truths of our Church Magisterium.
These doctrines have been particularly troublesome to Protestants.  Yet when we look deeply into these doctrines, we see that they are derivative of basic Christian teachings concerning Christ’s grace.  The Immaculate Conception basically celebrates the power and freedom of God’s grace that justifies, sanctifies human beings.  Mary is “full of grace.”  No where do we see the preeminence of grace over works than in this revelation about Mary’s being in grace from the very beginning of her existence.  Mary’s assumption is again nothing more than what is the destiny of all those in Christ.  We shall be raised up from the dead with a glorified body like unto Christ’s (read the Second Reading of today’s feast. 1st Corinthians 15.20-26).  Complete and perfect union with God in Christ in a glorified state will be ours as is now Mary’s through the power of Christ’s resurrected glory.
As contemplatives and faithful members of the Church we live in the presence of Mary as our Mother and Sister, our fellow disciple.  The Gospel Reading depicts in simple terms the power of this woman of faith and grace as she visits her cousin in their mutual pregnancies, all full of faith, grace and blessings. Like her we are dead and our life is hid with Christ in God.  Our prayer draws us more and more into that resting in God through Christ.  We continue now the visitation of Mary, bearing Christ within us to all who would receive Him.

Oratio-Affective Prayer
Read the text again, this time allowing the Spirit to pray within you, forming the words that come from your heart.

All-powerful and ever living God, through the power of your Son’s resurrected state you raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul into the glory of the eternal state that is heaven.  You have fulfilled in Mary what is also our inheritance.  By the Assumption you manifest in your Catholic Church the living example of what is ours as your children.  May we see heaven as our final goal.  May we surrender every doubt, accept every cross of this life;  may we give ourselves over to this blessed state of being in you and you in us.  In Christ your Son all will come to life again in the fullness of our resurrected humanity.  Even now allow us to be drawn into your presence and live for you from the very core of our being, as Mary lives now in her fullness in you.  In the Holy Spirit that flows from you may we experience such deep wisdom, fullest understanding in love, fullest love in the deepest unknowing, in the pattern of Mary’s  soul and body magnifying you, the Father through the Son….

Contemplatio-Contemplative prayer of the heart in silence.
Read the text again.  At the conclusion, close your eyes and rest in the Holy Trinity.  Repeat the Sacred Word of your love commitment each time thoughts move you away from the resting in silence.  In fact, at any time in this “lectio” process, when you experience the movement to silence, follow it.  Let the Sacred Scripture that is in your heart now move into the background as an arch through which you pass beyond in the silence of love into the bosom of the Father, one with the Son-Word and the Holy Spirit.

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.

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.

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, OBLSB, D.Min.






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