Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings

Twelfth Week of the Year, June 26 - July 2, 2017

Mo
nday

Matthew 7.1-5

To see the speck in a brother's or sister's eye, one has to look closely.  It requires that habit of looking deeply into another's face.  Maybe that comes from long periods of prayer.  It is the intensity of observation that comes from looking and listening with great attention.  But something else should be happening to us from prayer.  In prayer I should be absorbing the great mercy of God.  God is an infinite sun of everlasting, burning, merciful love.  We have been forgiven infinitely so that God can no longer see nor remember the sin.  And besides, prayer makes me aware of that great plank in my eye.  I experience the depths of my own innate sinfulness.  I have to look more deeply into the face of Christ to imitate His eyes reflecting love and compassion.  Judgment belongs to God who can judge with mercy.  Compassion, co-suffering, with another's own state of weakness prepares me for prayer that reflects God's mercy.  At the same time I must remain vigilant in the discernment of ways that are not of the Kingdom.

 

Tuesday

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.

 

Wednesday

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.

 

Thursday,
 

The Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, June 29

 

Meditation:

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, the Pope.  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).

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.

 

 

Friday

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).

 

Saturday

Matthew 8.5-17

In the course of the spiritual life, we  experience the "outer darkness; … the gnashing of teeth and the weeping."  The terror of separation often dwells in the different levels of my consciousness.  I taste the outer darkness.  But the state cannot last nor be the ultimate condition of my soul.  I know authority and what it accomplishes.  I trust in the absolute power of Christ's authority to heal the soul.  The foundation of faith is the background to my hope, and ultimately love: In the gift of divine charity my soul cleaves unto God, so that He is all in all in Christ.  People from east and west will sit with us among all the patriarchs and their wives, the prophets, kings and humble faithful in the Kingdom.  Repeating the centurion's prayer in today’s Gospel each day at Mass, Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ nourishes this union with the Triune God through Christ.  That is the heart of prayer.

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


For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Fredrickson
Fredrickson46@msn.com