Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings

Easter Season



The Sixth Week of Easter, May 27 - June 1, 2019

John 15.26-16.4
Our life of prayer has a double aspect.  On the one hand, simple prayer leads in Christ into the divine life of the Trinity.  What is Christian prayer but receiving the Holy Spirit and in Him to be able to receive Jesus as the Son, and in the Son to see the Father.  We rest there within the Heart of the Trinity.  The Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father bears witness to the Son, Jesus.  Prayer then is the surrender to the fundamental joy of communion and liberty in this sharing the divine life.  But, on the other hand, prayer makes us aware that we are recipients of the organized opposition to the mystery of Christ.  The deeper our life in the faith, the more we find ourselves separated from the predominate culture which rejects Jesus as the divine Son of the Father and rejects the fullness of the Spirit's teachings held within the Church.  We are cast out of this culture.  We mourn the world's intentionally rejecting Christ and his way.  We mourn our behavior which is less than perfect in living the Gospels.  Prayer makes us sensitive to the human condition.  And it is painful.  But Jesus has told us to be prepared for the pain of rejection which becomes the occasion of our trusting in divine mercy.
John 16.5-11
In the rhythm of prayer life spaces of time come in which it seems we are without the Spirit.  God is more absent than present.  But Jesus must go away in the Spirit so that the Spirit may lead us deeper into substantial union with the Trinity.  Beyond our feelings that come from the spiritual faculties of knowing and willing, there is the substance of our souls, the very essence of our person.  Union with God in God exists in the substance of all that we are.  Only the Holy Spirit can lead us into this consubstantial, participant union with the Trinity, the free gift of grace.  We must be purified and justified by the workings of the Spirit.  We must be convicted of sin and know the judgment against the world and its rulers, and be justified in the power of Christ ascended into the Father.
John 16.12-15
The joy of heaven is that we will be constantly growing in the experience of the presence of the Holy Trinity.  Such is the joy of our prayer now in this existence.  The Spirit is constantly receiving that which is of the Son and revealing it to us.  Our joy is that we are never completely filled.  There is infinitely more than our human capacity can receive at one moment.  We go from one moment to another in our prayer, awaiting transformation and a deeper union in love.  Death is the entrance into the fullness of union.  Only in death will we begin to experience the fullness of Christ, ascended into heaven, at the right hand of the Father.  We are seated there already in faith and hope.  The perfect love that is found in heaven will definitively and eternally establish us in the glory of Christ even as now we exist in that love, not perfect, veiled, but present and effective.

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
First Reading: Acts 1:1-11

In our prayer we live in faith with Jesus: the Jesus, Lord,  taken up in a cloud to heaven, in the cloud of unknowing.  There is no word, no feeling, no formula in itself that gives scientific, felt-assurance that we are in Christ and He in us.  Ultimately it is in the unknowning of faith that we experience that we are in Christ through the infused virtue of charity, the divine dance of eros and agape that unites us to the divine life of the Trinity.
Even the most sublime moment of communion in the Eucharist with the sense appearances of bread and wine hide the immersion in the divine life.  It is the cloud of unknowing which surrounds us. Only love poured forth by the Spirit brings union but it is beyond what eye can see, hands touch or ears hear, heart feel, understanding grasp.  What is the proof of this union?  It is that we effectively hear the voice of the angel—and now the witness-tradition of the Church—testifying: Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.  Christ taken in the cloud.  What remains is the unknowing in faith, the presence in love, and the mission. 
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17 - 23
There is the cloud, the unknowing.  But even more basic and absolute there is the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling.  From the love of divine union comes an understanding.  But it is given only in the cloud.  We emerge from the cloud with the clear understanding.  As St. Peter says in his first letter: Him whom you do not see, you love.”  This love gives understanding and a certain knowledge that goes beyond reason alone, or science alone.  Prayer in faith and love with hope is never an absence, it is always Presence.  Nothing in the world can separate us from this presence since being lifted up Jesus fills all with his all.
Gospel Reading: St Luke. 24: 46 - 53
St. Luke’s account introduces the promise of the Holy Spirit.  Wait for the Spirit.  Then see the rippling effects of that power: From Jerusalem to all parts of the world.  From this time onwards, the work of God continues.
Thursday (If the feast is transferred to Sunday, the following is the weekday Gospel.)
John 16.16-20
Or prayer takes place in this matter of "a little while."  In prayer we suspend the coming and going of daily life and in our recollection we die to all the details of the world.  It is a rehearsal for the act of faith at the moment of death.  We close our eyes in prayer to all distractions and open our hearts to the absolute reality of God in spirit and in truth.  It is this little while between seeing Christ in our daily life and then through the absence to come into the presence, and finally into the eternal, immediate presence.  The world rejoices in its immediate here and now in the rolling out of production and pleasure.  We weep and lament over Jerusalem's rejection and the consequences of a godless society.  But our prayer is joy, deep joy, a joy that no one can take from us.  It is the joy from Christ's ascension shared in the experience of prayer.

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  May 31
Luke 1:39 - 56
Divine Presence and omnipotent power are the ingredients of today’s feast and its Gospel selection.  These divine attributes do not exist in a vacuum or are theological terms.  God in

Trinity is presence and the new creation given in Christ Jesus is power actuated.
Presence and power live in a human person in unparalleled perfection in the person of Blessed

Mary, Virgin and Mother of God, bearer of the Lord Jesus within her womb.
How the presence of Mary in the fullness of her grace and mission envelopes Elizabeth and the child in her womb!  Leap for joy, filled with the Holy Spirit, exclaiming: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb….

Elizabeth is the beginning, nascent Church which until the end of time will exclaim this prayer, adding: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners ….

Our contemplative, quiet prayer in the same Holy Spirit delivers us up to that presence proclaimed in this Gospel until God recreates us so much so that we can truly say from the substance of our being: My soul magnifies the Lord….
The power of God accomplishes all this.  This power comes from the weakness of Christ’s cross and from the witnesses in humility and faith, first among all is the Blessed Mary.  Blessed are you for you believed that God will accomplish all that He has said to you.

Contemplative prayer is the prayer God accomplishes in us so that we receive God’s power of life and conscious love within the deepest levels of our soul.
All this presence and power flow from the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and the enveloping embrace of the Holy Trinity, through the intercession and visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.  Hail Mary!

John 16.23-28
We love Jesus as the Son.  We love him in his mysterious, divine origin.  We love him even beyond the marvels of his humanity.  There is much internal evidence from the Gospels that demonstrate that Christ Jesus is the perfection of the human being.  That is not enough.  In the first few centuries the Church grappled with the Arian heresy that taught that Jesus was an exceptional manifestation of God's creation, but that he was not God.  We love Jesus in the faith of  the Church: He is God of God, light of light.  We love Jesus because we believe that he came from the Father.  He came from the Father and he returns to the Father.  Jesus, the divine person, the Son, exists in His divine nature and in His human nature.  The Son prays the Father in his humanity in the pattern of his divinity.  And then by grace the Son prays to the Father in us as we share in this son-ship by divine adoption.  Our prayer is living out our adoption in baptism.
 --William Fredrickson, Obl. Sec. OSB, D.Min.


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