Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings

Following are two weeks of meditations on the weekday Gospel Readings in the daily Liturgy of the Mass:

The Fifteenth Week of the Year, July 16 - 21, 2018
Matthew 10.34-11.1
"You are not worthy of me."  In prayer I must look into the face of Christ and be able to understand those words of Christ:  “You are not worthy of me.”  Jesus,  if I do not set You as the absolute of my life then I am not worthy of you.  The sword that cuts to the marrow of the bone is this absolute demand of Jesus upon my whole person and upon all the minutes and spaces of my life.  There is no peace without the sword of divine love cutting deep within me.  Each day it is relentless.  Each day, the cross.  Each day, the following after.  Yet there is no other way.  Jesus would be less than he is, if it were not this absolute surrender that God demands as creator and as the only source of all my being.  God would not love me if He were not the end for which I was created.  Holy Mary, pray for me that I become worthy of the promises of Christ.
Matthew 11.20-24
Confirmed modern secularists mock the hell and brimstone aspects of Scripture.  Avid Christians are mostly portrayed in the character of the fanatical Christian preacher ranting on about Sodom and Gomorrah and the terrible punishments God will visit upon sinners; or in the characterizations of small-minded, mean people who bring harm to others.  I would not want to be characterized as a fanatical fundamentalist.  Prayer must deal with the fact that God judges me, my society, all humanity.  I can expect an adverse judgment if my love for the Kingdom is not supreme.  Rather, now is the time to hear the warning of Christ and to plunge into the burning fire of Jesus' divine love and be consumed in it and be transformed in it and follow Him each day in grace.  Meanwhile, prayer is also the hope that in that day, all will come through the fire of judgment.  The sword of Christ, however, must not be disregarded because of a watered-down version of the Gospel.  Modern secularism must not be the standard of prayer and can not set the markers for the Christian revelation that flows from the Lord in his merciful judgment. 
Matthew 11.25-27
As soon as I seek in my prayer the mind of the little one who trusts in the absoluteness of God; and as soon as I do not allow one rook or cranny of my consciousness to be puffed up in modernity's skepticism toward the reality of  the Kingdom, then I begin to experience in my prayer the hidden mystery of the Kingdom.  This is the pleasure of the Father to reveal to me the Son and the Son reveals the Father.  And what a gift is given!  The Trinitarian life!  No one knows the Son but the Father.  No one knows the Father but the Son.  Into this intimacy of Presence I am called. What am I learning in my prayer?  Holy Spirit of the love-knowledge of the Father and the Son, come and teach and re-form me into the image of the Son.
Matthew 11.28-30
Four action words: come, take, learn and find.  Prayer is my participation in these actions of the Spirit.  When I pray I come into Christ.  When I pray my heart takes upon itself the gentle yoke of Christ and His Gospel.  When I pray the Spirit reveals and I learn the secrets of the Kingdom.  Finally prayer is finding as I open into God's life.  It is here that I take shelter in the heart of Jesus. This is the yoke and burden of Christ: The divine Presence.  Here is rest for my soul.  The burden on my back, the struggle and labor of living all become light and gentle in the humble and meek heart of Jesus.  Prayer then is about learning and finding, and taking the gentle yoke of Christ, leading to rest which is contemplative prayer, the state of final happiness which only the Father can give.
Matthew 12.1-8
Our prayer pushes past the rabbinical argument and brings us to the true purpose for the Sabbath: to adore the Lord of the Sabbath.  I want to dwell within the Presence which envelopes me.  The Temple is the Presence.  And the One who is greater than the physical Temple is here.  He in me and I in Him.  Here in God is where I wish to dwell—that is the essence contemplative prayer.  It is only in absolute adoration that the Savior will teach us that he desires mercy more than sacrifice and fidelity more than observance.  It is prayer that gives me courage like David to eat the bread of the presence because I am hungry and God is the bread of my soul's subsistence, nay more, of my life and love and freedom.  It is all consummated now within the mystery of the Holy Eucharist in the greater reality of the Church.
Matthew 12.14-21
This Gospel narrative demonstrates the path of hiddenness and withdrawal of Jesus.  He is a lamb among wolves but he is shrewd and prudent as a serpent.  His is not to be on the offensive but to be obedient to the Father.  Behold: my servant.  The Son becomes the Servant.  He gives his life for the victory of justice.  My prayer is a participation in this hidden way of redemption.  In my prayer I am the servant of the Kingdom and give myself for the redemption of all peoples in the oblation of prayer. “In Him the Gentiles will hope.”
The Sixteenth Week of the Year, July 23 - 28, 2018

Matthew 12.38-42
The attitude of the scribes and the Pharisees represents  an aspect of a religious person’s way of thinking.  I may ask, then, what is in the center of my heart that seeks God in prayer?  Am I an entrepreneur of spiritual experiences?  Do I want a sign that I can feast my eyes upon, an experience that will be a trip around the world?  The evil and adulterous generation is turned away from seeking the goodness of God preferring rather a personal experience and is therefore faithless to the creator who deserves adoration and obedience.  So much of me, so much of my past way of life reflect the spirit of that generation.  The only sign that I must seek is that of the cross.  What buries me for three days with Christ is what I should welcome .  My prayer must be that gentle, simple, relentless waiting upon that which is greater than Solomon, than Jonah, upon the One who is the Lord Jesus.  Let me always live in the reality of Christ’s Second Coming.
Matthew 12.46-50
In these few verses, the phrase, "my mother, my brethren--my brothers and sisters," is spoken three times.  Jesus must be absolute amid all that is most familiar in my life.  My prayer waits the outstretched  gesturing hand of Jesus directed at me and thus including me among his disciples.  These realities must be foremost in my heart: Discipleship, the will of the Father, heaven, i.e., the state of that existence which is the Kingdom of God, the absolute and eternal reign of God over all in Christ.  Prayer is the act of discipleship; it places me among the disciples listening to Him, there at his feet.  And there is where I will find His Mother.  She is the perfect disciple.  She is the most perfectly redeemed and sanctified within the Kingdom.  I must pray as she prayed, as she prays even now in the Kingdom.
Wednesday, Feast of St. James, the Greater, Apostle (Meditation is on the daily Gospel.)
Matthew 13.1-9
Prayer must conform to the teaching of this parable in the Gospel of today; it is the greatest and first of all the parables.  My prayer prepares the ground of my soul to receive the word.  More than speaking, prayer is hearing and is receiving.  Prayer is hearing as the ground receives the seed.  Prayer is a hearing that is absolute receptivity and is inwardly disposed to receive the word as the good ground receives the seed for a thirty, sixty, hundred-fold yield.  What of the adverse conditions--the trampled-upon path, the rocky ground, the thorns?  I enter into the life of prayer for the long haul.  It will take a life-time and perhaps a purgatory for the inner purifications that prepare the soil. He, who has ears, let him hear.   To pray is to open the ears of my soul.
Matthew 13.10-17
In my personal history I must certainly say that I have not always seen or heard, rather I have blocked and turned away from God’s initiative to communicate.  Prayer is attentive waiting, ready to hear.  Prayer is the watchfulness so that we can see when we can the light dawns upon us, so that we can hear when the Spirit speaks the Word.  Yet I am blessed.  I am blessed because in the Church, the Sacrament of the Mystery of Christ, there is always the light to be seen and the word to be heard.  Many before me in the Old Testament longed for that hearing and seeing.  The fact that I seek to be faithful to the Church and to prayer would mean that I approach those to whom "it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven."  Dedication to the discipline of prayer and ever-earnest renewal of the quality of prayer will allow me to resist the dull heart, heavy ears, and closed eyes in the doze of my own self-importance.  Every time I enter into the discipline of contemplative prayer the choir of angels sings: "Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." 
Matthew 13.18-23
In my journey in faith I have learned that all three negative examples of the seed's failing describe me at different times in my life.  I have allowed my heart to be a pathway, a "Times Square" of feet plodding over me--how much I tried to hide among all the people I used.  There was no time for understanding.  Easily the evil one could pluck away the word.  For long periods of time I have allowed the rocks of resistance to remain in my heart.  There were no roots; there was no space for the roots of understanding.  And the thorns of the cares of the world and the delight in riches choked the word.  I complicated my life in my ambitions and sought the diversions that a middle-class life could buy.  But the tiny, fragile pilot light of faith and hope burned ever so faint waiting for ignition.  If in fidelity to the grace of prayer I may finally yield the thirty per cent I will be grateful.  Only allow my heart to be fertile and apt ground for the word.  Jesus is not only a teacher of wisdom but He is the Savior, the Enabler, the Risen One who can conquer all internal difficulties and effect redemption and holiness in my contrite heart.
Matthew 13.24-30
Prayer shares in the current condition of God's Kingdom.  The Kingdom has its enemies.  It has the enemy, the Evil One—Satan, the Devil.  I have not escaped the evil one’s influence.  I have many times been the enemy's companion which meant that my enemy has triumphed over me.  My prayer must allow me to follow the root, deep into the power of the Holy Spirit so that the Spirit of Christ will conquer the enemy of the Kingdom.  That victory is already achieved in Christ.  Grace is the gift of sharing in that victory.  My prayer then is the surrender into that victory. That is what my prayer is about: abiding in the victory of Christ.  Meanwhile the patience of the daily struggle remains.  The faith to see the victory of Christ is the light given in prayer.  Now is the time to keep awake, to see and to hear Christ through faith and hope.  But the final victory is at the end of the days.  The struggle will continue until I close my eyes in death; and it will continue after me until Christ comes in glory for the final victory over his enemy, the evil one.  Prayer is a sober awareness of what the Kingdom must endure while the weeds grow along with the wheat until the end.

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

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