Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings



The Nineteenth Week of the Year, August 11 - 15, 2020

Matthew 17.22-27
Jesus, you are Son of Man:  You are betrayed and hauled over into the hands of men who will torture and kill you.  Jesus, you are Son of God:  The Temple is yours because as Son you dwell there in your Father’s house;  You fill the Temple;  You are the Presence that makes the Temple God’s house.  You are the presence in which I dwell in the Father and in the Spirit. This dwelling with is the basis of prayer.  Your Temple is your Presence and Your Temple is all of creation.  Even the fish carry your tribute as Son of Man because you are Son of God.  Like all your brothers and sisters in humanity, you pay the taxes of the vulnerability of human nature.  This created nature you have taken upon yourself in your passion, death and resurrection.  You are the fish that bears the tribute of our redemption, the coin of entry into the Presence of the Temple.  My prayer is to dwell in that Presence because I am redeemed in Your passion and resurrection.
Matthew 18.1-5,10,12-14
Why, eternal Savior, am I always concerned about the satisfactions of my ego?  So much of me is clustered around this system of my feelings responding to a false image of what makes me happy.  "Who is of greatest importance in the kingdom?"  What an empty pursuit!  I pray for the gift that in my prayer I can see clearly beyond this maze of self-importance.  I have a prayer within my prayer.  That my prayer be not a search for self-importance.  Jesus, give me the unawareness of self that is of the nature of an innocent child.  Like St. Therese of Lisieux,  I must learn the way of spiritual childhood.  My prayer is sharing in the Father's search for me to save me.  My life must also be a life of service to the little ones.  In this way we enter into the Presence, at the heart of the contemplative life, like the angels who gaze upon the face of the heavenly Father.  Lord Jesus, search for me, a sheep wandering, lost amid all the false images projected onto my mind’s screen.  Purify my intention so that my gaze of the heart may be simple, in love, upon You, my Lord.
Matthew 18.15-20
Jesus has called forth the Church by the power of his redemptive act, the Church coming forth from his open side on the cross.  Here  and now she is visible as a Sacrament in the fully organized and functioning institutional Church, the fruit of centuries of salvation history.  At its divine core, the Church reflects the divine communion of the Holy Trinity.  I must never set my contemplative life in opposition to the full reality of the Church, the Catholic Church, the Church in its fullness.  My prayer must lead to  sensitivity to the union of the brothers and sisters in the Church.  The Church is the Sacrament that supports me within the Body of Christ.  There, in the Church, is the fullness of Christ present, ready to penetrate me with divine union.  And there in the Church I am called to love others, my brothers and sisters, in the mystical body of Christ.
Matthew 18.21-19.1
I know that divine love is growing within me when I am sensitive to how I treat  others.  As I am faithful to the practice of prayer, in the same way, I must be vigilant to the degree of my sensitivity to others.  Since I know so well that my sensitivity to others is so frail, I must be ready, on my part, to forgive offenses against me.  The divine mercy is a fiery furnace of love into which is cast all the sins of my life.  My heart must be aflame with the readiness to forgive in a like manner.  It will not come easy.  But “the seventy times seven times” rhythm of forgiving and being forgiven becomes a pattern of our life shared with the Triune God.  Prayer penetrates God and our soul and the souls of others by sharing divine mercy.
Matthew 19.3-12
The basis of my prayer is profound adoration of God's will for creation.  In this way I accept the Kingdom that Jesus establishes in the Spirit.  The life of prayer is one with the basic ingredients of human life, like sexuality.  I am human therefore I am a sexual being.  Sex, as reproduction, is at the very center of the life cycle of the human family.  The human family exists fundamentally because of sexual union between a man and woman in the bond of marriage.  Sex in itself is not a play thing, but part of the mutual gift within marriage, open to the birth of children.  In the face of modern society’s viewpoint of sex I must adore the plan that God has placed within the human condition.  "But at the beginning it was not that way."  Contemplative life is to return to the beginning, the primal innocence of the first creation and forward to the coming of the final Kingdom.  Only Christ can bring us into the Kingdom for which one marries or lives celibate, but all for the Kingdom.  Fidelity is the gift that is beyond the ability of my fallen condition.  Only grace can make us faithful in chastity.  Christ calls us back to the beginning and gives us the strength to arrive there.  “At the beginning it was not thus.”
The Solemn Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; August 15 199
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.

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


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