ACCEPTING THE EMBRACE of GOD:
THE ANCIENT ART of LECTIO DIVINA
The Process of Lectio Divina
Lection Divina is a very ancient art – it is a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God.
This ancient practice has been kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, and is one of the precious treasures of the Benedictine monastics and oblates. Time set aside specifically for lectio divina enables us to discover an underlying spiritual rhythm in our daily life. Within this rhythm, we discover an increasing ability to offer more of ourselves and our relationships to the Father, and to accept the embrace that God is continuously extending to us in the person of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
An Excerpt from The Ladder of Monks by Guigo
“Reading seeks for the sweetness of a blessed life, meditation perceives it, prayer asks for it, contemplation tastes it. Reading, as it were, puts food whole into the mouth, mediation chews it and breaks it up, prayer extracts its flavor, contemplation is the sweetness itself which gladdens and refreshes. Reading works on the outside, meditation on the pith [soft inner part of a feather or a hair; the essential part, core, heart]: prayer asks for what we long for, contemplation gives us delight in the sweetness which we have found.”
HOW TO PRACTICE LECTIO DIVINA
“… the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe” (Deuteronomy 30:14)
Lectio Divina means “sacred reading” and has four stages.
The method of Lectio Divina includes:
- moments of reading (lectio),
- reflecting on (meditatio),
- responding to (oratio) and
- resting in (contemplatio) the Word of God
with the aim of nourishing and deepening one’s relationship with the Divine. Note that the time frames listed below are only suggestions. Individual steps might take you more or less time.
Get Ready (3 minutes)
- Find a place where you can be quiet and undisturbed.
- Invite the Holy Spirit’s presence.
- Choose a brief passage of Scripture.
- Quieten your heart, sit in silence, and ask God to meet you as you encounter God’s Word.
- Invite the Holy Spirit, who inspired the Bible, to make its message clear to you and speak to your heart.
Read (lectio) (3-5 minutes)
the scripture passage through one time without hurrying and without stopping. Spend a few minutes in silence after this first reading.
Reflect (meditatio) on the passage (3-5 minutes)
- meditate and reflect on any words or phrases that attracted you or caught your attention. Think about it/these and consider what meaning it/they might have for you.
- Begin to repeat that phrase, sentence or one word over and over, allowing the word(s) to settle deeply into your heart.
- As you continue to meditate and reflect during the following steps, listen to God and allow God to speak to you.
Respond (oratio) to the Passage (3-5 minutes)
- Read the text a second time.
- Pay special attention to any memories or emotions that the word or phrase stirs up (for example, anxiety, fear, comfort, joy, longing, peace).
- Then listen for a personal invitation rising up from your experience of prayer so far. Consider the word or phrase and what it has evoked for you in memory, image, or feeling – what is the invitation? Is this invitation a summons toward a new awareness or action?
- Ask God to show you why God caused a word or phrase to catch your attention. What is God saying to you?
- Tell God about what you are hearing or feeling or about how the passage has affected you.
- Take time to sit and listen for God’s response.
Rest (contemplatio) (5 minutes)
- Read the scripture a third time
- Quietly rest in the presence of God. This is called contemplation. Simply offer God a few moments to be together. Be with God, resting in the one-of-a-kind, unconditional love that God has for you.
- Return to the Passage.
- As you go through your day, keep returning to the passage and your reflection on it.
- Find ways to integrate the word into your life.
QUESTIONS RELATED TO LECTIO DIVINA
1. Which word or phrase has caught my attention?
2. What is my response to that word or phrase?
3. How does this apply to my current life circumstance?
4. What do I sense God inviting me to in this reading?
Sue Pickering in her book “Spiritual Direction: A Practical Introduction” introduces another way of experiencing Lectio Divina
She encourages people to choose a ‘key moment’ they want to explore using the suggested fourfold lectio divina process.
Lectio: ‘Reading’ the event or contemporary image that has taken our attention, taking time to explore our initial response to the ‘key moment’.
Meditatio: Thinking, reflecting, exploring, making connections, for example with scripture, with what we know of God through our experience or through what we have been taught or seen in others, with our own situations including our questions, struggles and joys.
We listen for the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit who knows what we need to be asking ourselves!
Oratio: ‘Talking’ to God about what we are discovering about God and about ourselves through this event/image/‘key moment’; responding to God with our whole selves, our feelings and our imagination, our bodies and our minds.
Contemplatio: Resting in the love of God, letting ourselves open to the Love which waits to enfold us, consenting to the work of the Holy Spirit within us.
https://sacredpilgrim.com with Lectio Divina podcasts