Tag Archives: lectio divina

Sacred Scripture as historical texts reveals Christ Jesus

The 20th and 21st centuries have seen Catholics draw closer to the Bible, the revealed Word of God. During the pontificate of Benedict XVI there was almost an explosion of emphasis on Scripture study, a resurgence of biblical preaching, a serious consideration of what it means to be an evangelical Catholic and lectio divina. In my opinion, it was Benedict XVI who gave critical attention to the sacred Scriptures in the calling of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God coupled with the concretizing the Church’s programatic direction with the publication of Verbum Domini (2010).

Rome Reports gives a spotlight on a recent initiative of the American Bible Society‘s “The Bible and the World.”

This initiative of the ABS is yet another great example of the place we Catholics need to have for the daily praying with God’s word, and the study of the historical text. As the preparatory commission for the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God stated about the complexity and beauty of the sacred text viz. our salvation in Christ Jesus,

Pastorally speaking, this truth requires an understanding on how to gather, in an analogous way, the various meanings of the Word of God in the faith of the Church, as seen in the Bible. In the Scriptures, Jesus Christ is shown to be the Eternal Word of God, which shines forth in creation, is given a historical character in the message of the prophets, is fully manifested in the Person of Jesus, is echoed in the voice of the apostles and is proclaimed in the Church today. In a general sense, the Word of God is Christ-the-Word, who, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is the key to all interpretation. “The Word of God, who was in the beginning with God, is not, in his fullness, much talk or a multiplicity of words; but a single Word, which embraces a great number of ideas (theoremata), each of which is a part of the Word in its entirety… and if Christ refers us to the Scriptures in testifying to himself, it is not to one book that he sends us to the exclusion of another, but to all, because all speak of him.”Thus, continuity can be seen in diversity.

Lectio Divina likened to a mirror

I was reading something the other day and came across an author’s quote of an old spiritual classic in which he said fittingly describes lectio divina. From the fourteenth century Cloud of Unknowing we read:

“God’s word…can be likened to a mirror. Spiritually, the ‘eye’ of your soul is your reason: your conscience is your spiritual ‘face’. Just as you cannot see or know that there is a dirty mark on your actual face without the aid of a mirror, or somebody telling you, so spiritually, it is impossible for a soul blinded by his frequent sins to see the dirty mark in his conscience, without reading or hearing God’s word.” (Penguin edition, p. 102)

Bible study resources

Bible study Catholics is no longer optional. Everything, and I mean everything in the Church, must be dependent on sacred Scripture, even the Magisterium. I came across this quote from Bishop Christopher Butler, OSB, which may be a bit cheeky, but to my mind it shows the degree of seriousness that we ought to think in biblical terms, “It is all very well for us to say and believe that the Magisterium is subject to holy Scripture. But is there anybody who is in a position to tell the Magisterium: ‘Look, you are not practicing your subjection to Scripture in your teaching’?” (in JJ Miller, ed., Vatican II: An Interfaith Appraisal, 1966). Indeed, we all need to be subject to Revelation.

We need to keep on top of our study and love of God’s revealed word: the study of Scripture is a non-negotiable for Catholics if they think they are going to be saved on the Last Day. Pope Benedict spoke of lectio divina as the springtime of the Church and organizations like the American Bible Society have spent lots of time and money trying to help Christians, including Catholics, to the biblical narrative of redemption.

Here are some bible resources:

Pope Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu

Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum)

The Letter of Saint Athanasius on the Interpretation of the Psalms

Scott Hahn, Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI (Baker Brazos Press, 2009).

Scott Hahn, Consuming the Word: The New Testament and The Eucharist in the Early Church (Image, 2013)

Richard John Neuhaus, ed., Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: The Ratzinger Conference on Bible and the Church, (Eerdmans, 1989).

Some other things to have on your shelf, virtual or otherwise:

Understanding the the readings of the Liturgy (scroll down on the calendar to the month and day and click on the link)

Scott Hahn’s website, the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Scott Hahn also has a great short summary of the Sunday readings that you can get sent free via e-mail once a week

Blessed Guerric of Igny

I am reminded by my own heart that the the early morning is a particularly good time of the day to be clothed in a special silence, but there are time at dusk that the discipline of silence is helpful. This is an essential part of spiritual maturity, an adult faith in Divine Providence. Listening and speaking to the Trinity is done when the heart and mind are slowed, even word-less. Knowing and following God’s will is only possible if we give a certain amount of day to quiet, that is, silence. Not a punishing silence, not a hopeless silence, but a manner of being that helps us to see ourselves in action: the manifestation of the virtues of faith, hope, charity, justice, peace, perseverance, etc.

Blessed Guerric in his 28th sermon says,

“As the Christ-child in the womb advanced toward birth in a long, deep silence, so does the discipline of silence nourish, form and strengthen a person’s spirit, and produce growth which is the safer and more wholesome for being the more hidden.”

Silence, therefore, is a gift that allows us to enter more deeply into the revealed Word of God, the biblical narrative through the practice of lectio divina, the practice of prayerfully reading the sacred Scripture. It is, I am convinced, the new springtime of the Church as Benedict XVI said, proposing once again the ancient Christian practice. Most often we when we hear the words lectio divina we think of monastic reading where the person is immersed in God’s holy word with the distinct desire to seek the face of God, thus making a home for that Word in his heart.

The famous Cistercian father Blessed Guerric of Igny (c. 1070/80-1157) was influenced by Origen and whose formation was under Saint Bernard was quite insightful on many things when it came to liturgical theology and the monasteric life.

If you are inclined to read more about what this Cistercian father taught, you may want to pick up a copy of John Morson’s Christ the Way: the Christology of Guerric of Igny (Liturgical Press). But his liturgical sermons are worth every effort; they are published by Liturgical Press, too.

Blessed Guerric taught the following to his brothers lectio divina:

Search the Scripture.  For you are not mistaken in thinking that you find life in them, you who seek nothing else in them but Christ, to whom the Scriptures bear witness.  Blessed indeed are they who search his testimonies, seek them out with all their heart.  Therefore you who walk about in the gardens of the Scriptures do not pass by heedlessly and idly, but searching each and every word like busy bees gathering homey from flowers, reap the Spirit from the words. (Sermon 54)

The Digital Nun: A Benedictine continuity in social media

Can you believe that Benedictines can do anything in addition to prayer, and more prayer? Well, I hope so. Benedictines and nuns to boot, have given the world lots of innovative things that continue to use today. For example, writing, singing different forms of music, social communications, different forms of alcohol, etc.

The Benedictines are always interesting people, whether in the 9th century, 18th century or the 21st century. Sister Catherine Wybourne, OSB, and the nuns of Holy Trinity Monastery (Howton Grove, Herefordshire, UK).

Sister Catherine is the prioress of the Benedictine nuns at this small monastery with competencies in the secular world and in the world of God and the Church.

Sister Catherine and the nuns of Holy Trinity Monastery engage us on level of faith formation, the Benedictine Charism and social communications. Her disposability for the sake of Christ’s Gospel and His Church.

Listen to Laura Lynch’s interview of Sister Catherine. You won’t be disappointed.

And if you are still interested in social media and the search of God, or least the perspective of this Benedictine nun, Dame Catherine, may I suggest:

  1. How Many iPhone Developers Wear Wimples?” (WSJ, May 2, 2011)
  2. Catherine Wybourne: The Digital Nun
  3. Prayer and Work (1994) with Dom Columba Cary-Elwes (who by the way is the founding prior of St Louis Abbey)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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