Tag Archives: lectio divina

Lectio divina –being familiar with Christ

The following is something I curated and posted on the Benedictine Oblate Facebook group today.

In a recent newsletter from Fr. James Flint, OSB of St Procopius Abbey (Lisle, IL) he writes about his abbot asking the monks to say something about lectio and what was gleaned is “Give me a word” —some thoughts on lectio divina. See https://www.procopius.org/lectio-divina

As you know, the practice of prayerfully reading sacred Scripture is a key part of being a Christian, indeed, a Benedictine Oblate. Some Oblate formation programs stress lectio divina more than others. From experience, this is true for the Oblates of St Meinrad Archabbey. Whatever the case may be, lectio is rather crucial if you are truly seeking God —having familiarity with Jesus Christ.

Give me a word

~Words about the time and place for lectio divina. Most importantly, find the time to do it. Find a time of day that works for you. It can help to use the same time each day. Keep the amount of time short at first – you can build up to longer times eventually. Have a quiet place, away from normal affairs, to pray lectio divina. Don’t allow distractions. Find a sacred place.

~Words about picking a passage to do lectio divina with. At first, take just a few verses of Scripture. Use the readings for Mass, since you’ll hear them again when you go to Mass.

~Words about the “method” of praying lectio divina. Don’t get caught up with following a “method” or “technique,” but rather the important thing is to spend time with God through Scripture. Don’t over-think or over-analyze – eventually the Scripture takes the lead in the dance. Do lectio divina regularly, in a way that works best for you. Work on being quiet and do not focus on what you are doing. Don’t get discouraged and give up, if you don’t seem to be getting something out of it – keep to it! Lectio divina is a prayerful, patient pondering of a biblical text. Steps for lectio divina give your prayer purpose and direction.

~Words about how to read the biblical passage. Read over the passage repeatedly and slowly. Remember that through Scripture God is speaking to you. Be mindful of God’s presence. It can help to use a printed text, rather than a digital one on your phone or computer.

~Words about how to meditate on the passage. Meditate on the text in order to understand it. Think about how the words apply to you and to others. Ponder yourself in the biblical story or in the original audience of the text.

~Words about how to offer prayer in lectio divina. See your prayer as a relationship. Transitioning from meditation to prayer is important, for it helps to apply the text and opens you to what God wants to give you in this prayertime. The reading of Scripture must be applied to my life.

Lectio requires an altogether different approach, one that opens us to God’s agenda. The purpose is not to read a chapter of Scripture a day, to “get through” the Bible in a year, or anything of the sort. The purpose is to listen to God’s message to me, here and now, today. The quantity of material “covered” is irrelevant, and it could be counter-productive even to think in such terms. The material it should be that sets the agenda. Once we understand and apply that, we are engaged in lectio divina.

St. Procopius, pray for us.

Pushing to know Jesus

In a treasure trove books on Christology (secondary theological reflection) we have densely packed pages reflection on the of Jesus and what it means to say He is the Christ. It seems to me that the theological and spiritual questions and research have to be re-oriented. What if we reflect on what Jesus says in the Gospels, and how he acts? Jesus asks Peter, “Who do you say I am?” AND NOT “Who do the theologians say that I am?” Jesus does not ask us what Fr. John Meyendorff or Fr. Alexander Schmemann, or Sr. Vassa Larin or NT Wright, or Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar thought.

Knowing about Jesus is different than knowing Jesus. As to Peter so to us: “Who do you say that I am?”, a question that demands our own personal response based on our own personal experience of Jesus in prayer, divine Liturgy, Lectio Divina, and his subtle yet very real, mysterious presence in everyday life.

Theological reflection, first and second levels, are critical in having a comprehensive view of who Jesus Christ is. The personal encounter is a aided and challenged by theological reflection so as to keep us honest and correct. In today’s world we are tempted to think that any experience and any book is orthodox, that is, without error. We know by reason, however, this is incorrect. Knowing Jesus and not merely about Jesus is experienced with several contexts: worship (adoration), personal conversion, a communal life and works of charity; you can think of these points as pillars: prayer, study, community, and service. Truth is symphonic and verifiable. Book knowledge is useful but it is useless unless we are led us into a deeper relationship, a deeper engagement with Jesus. Otherwise, valuable space in the brain is wasted.

Listening with the ear of the heart – Lectio Divina

I am firm believer, based on experience AND the witness of Tradition of the Church, and that of Benedict XVI, that Lectio Divina is the prime method of my daily spiritual renewal. It is the daily re-birth of my life in Jesus Christ. My hope is that I can be faithful to the practice. Here is a fine thought on value of Lectio:

The monastic art of the reading (lectio) which is really a kind of listening (“with the ear of the heart”, cf. Rule of Benedict) to what the Word of God is saying to us in the Scriptures. They were also given time and space to immerse themselves in the practice of this art and to share their experience with one another and some of the monks. And all, of course, took place within the daily round of prayer and work which make up the life of the monastery ( or, in the home and workplace, among friends).

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)

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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