Lectio Divina

   All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ.             Hugh of St. Victor

Lectio Divina literally means  “Sacred  Reading”. Bible study provides a basic foundation for lectio which is a deep, loving, reflective meditation and encounter with the Word of God.  This ‘listening” to, ‘feeding upon’ and ‘resting in’ the Word is an ancient sacred artform where the Holy Spirit leads us from a deeper understanding of the Scriptures to a loving and life changing relationship with God.

Carmelite Spirituality is rooted in this ancient practice within the Monastic tradition. The very heart of the Carmelite Rule of St. Albert states: “Each one of you is to stay in his own cell or nearby, pondering the Law of the Lord day and night, and keeping watch at his prayers unless attending to some other duty.” ( Rule, No.8)

Gradually illuminated by this divine light this prayer becomes the means of intimate friendship and union with the Lord . Through the grace of Holy Spirit, our lives are transformed to follow Christ more closely. We recognize God’s will in our lives and strive to live it. Like any relationship, this relationship with God deepens and is strengthened by daily faithfulness to this prayer life. This requires love, time, dedication and persistence.

    Method

 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 Lord.

Lectio                    Prayerfully Place the Word on your Lips

To begin place yourself in the presence of God. The practice known as “centering prayer” makes a good introduction to lectio divina.  Call upon the Holy Spirit to guide your mind and your heart in this time of prayer. Sitting comfortably become still and  silent.  Focus for a few moments on your breathing

Choose a passage of the Scriptures that you wish to pray. You may use the readings from the Eucharistic liturgy for the day or if you prefer slowly work through a selected book of the Bible.  Then read the text  slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase    In lectio divina God is teaching us to listen to Him, to seek Him in silence. He softly, gently invites us ever more deeply into His presence.

Meditatio     Reflect on the Word

Savor the Word, which is ‘food for your soul’. Next take the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories and ideas. Do not be afraid of distractions .Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself which, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.

Oratio   Speak to God.

Whether you use words or ideas or images or all three is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. And give to Him what you have discovered in yourself during your experience of meditatio. Experience God using the word or phrase that He has given you as a means of blessing, of transforming the ideas and memories, which your pondering on His word has awakened. Give to God what you have found within your heart.

Contemplatio           Gentle Resting in the Lord

Finally simply rest in God’s embrace. And when He invites you to return to your pondering of His word or to your inner dialogue with Him, do so. Learn to use words when words are helpful, and to let go of words when they no longer are necessary. Rejoice in the knowledge that God is with you in both words and silence, in spiritual activity and inner receptivity.

 Sometimes in lectio divina one will return several times to the printed text, either to savor the literary context of the word or phrase that God has given, or to seek a new word or phrase to ponder. At other times only a single word or phrase will fill the whole time set aside for lectio divina. It is not necessary to anxiously assess the quality of one’s lectio divina as if one were “performing” or seeking some goal: lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.

                           Taken from Conversing with God in Scripture              Stephen J. Binz        The Word Among Us             Used With Permission