Sacred Scripture: November 2010 Archives

Lectio Divina in Verbum Domini

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In the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini released today, I immediately started reading the document for what the Pope had to say about lectio divina. You may recall the Pope's remarks for the 40th anniversary of Dei Verbum in 2005, he said lectio divina will bring about a spiritual springtime in Church. His words were:

"the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum, 25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church --I am convinced of it-- a new spiritual springtime."

No less than 16 times does His Holiness use the words lectio divina.

Here are some points of interest in Verbum Domini regarding lectio:

St Dominic with Scripture.jpg46. Listening together to the word of God, engaging in biblical lectio divina
, letting ourselves be struck by the inexhaustible freshness of God's word which never grows old, overcoming our deafness to those words that do not fit our own opinions or prejudices, listening and studying within the communion of the believers of every age: all these things represent a way of coming to unity in faith as a response to hearing the word of God.

48. The interpretation of sacred Scripture would remain incomplete were it not to include listening to those who have truly lived the word of God: namely, the saints. Indeed, "viva lectio est vita bonorum." The most profound interpretation of Scripture comes precisely from those who let themselves be shaped by the word of God through listening, reading and assiduous meditation. It is certainly not by chance that the great currents of spirituality in the Church's history originated with an explicit reference to Scripture.

82. Those aspiring to the ministerial priesthood are called to a profound personal relationship with God's word, particularly in lectio divina, so that this relationship will in turn nurture their vocation: it is in the light and strength of God's word that one's specific vocation can be discerned and appreciated, loved and followed, and one's proper mission carried out, by nourishing the heart with thoughts of God, so that faith, as our response to the word, may become a new criterion for judging and evaluating persons and things, events and issues. Such attention to the prayerful reading of Scripture must not in any way lead to a dichotomy with regard to the exegetical studies which are a part of formation. The Synod recommended that seminarians be concretely helped to see the relationship between biblical studies and scriptural prayer.

student does lectio.jpg
86. The Synod frequently insisted on the need for a prayerful approach to the sacred text as a fundamental element in the spiritual life of every believer, in the various ministries and states in life, with particular reference to lectio divina.

Devote yourself to the lectio of the divine Scriptures; apply yourself to this with perseverance. Do your reading with the intent of believing in and pleasing God. If during the lectio you encounter a closed door, knock and it will be opened to you by that guardian of whom Jesus said, 'The gatekeeper will open it for him.' By applying yourself in this way to lectio divina, search diligently and with unshakable trust in God for the meaning of the divine Scriptures, which is hidden in great fullness within.

For this reason, the privileged place for the prayerful reading of sacred Scripture is the liturgy, and particularly the Eucharist, in which, as we celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament, the word itself is present and at work in our midst. In some sense the prayerful reading of the Bible, personal and communal, must always be related to the Eucharistic celebration. Just as the adoration of the Eucharist prepares for, accompanies and follows the liturgy of the Eucharist, so too prayerful reading, personal and communal, prepares for, accompanies and deepens what the Church celebrates when she proclaims the word in a liturgical setting. By so closely relating lectio and liturgy, we can better grasp the criteria which should guide this practice in the area of pastoral care and in the spiritual life of the People of God.

87. The documents produced before and during the Synod mentioned a number of methods for a faith-filled and fruitful approach to sacred Scripture. Yet the greatest attention was paid to lectio divina, which is truly "capable of opening up to the faithful the treasures of God's word, but also of bringing about an encounter with Christ, the living word of God."

The Pope released his post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, following the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. It's available in eight languages in at least 200 pages. 

Verbum Domini - English

Verbum Domini - Italiano

Verbum Domini - Español

The press conference:

Word of God.jpg

At midday today in the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Verbum Domini" of Benedict XVI, on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church.

Today's press conference was presented by Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic and Msgr. Fortunato Frizza, respectively secretary general and under secretary of the Synod of Bishops.

The Apostolic Exhortation, which is dated 30 September, Memorial of St. Jerome, is the fruit of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which was held in Rome from 5 to 26 October 2008. The document, which has been published in Latin, Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Polish, is made up of an introduction, three parts and a conclusion.

Achbishop Eterovic explained how in part one, entitled "Verbum Dei", the Pope highlights both "the fundamental role of God the Father, source and origin of the Word", and "the Trinitarian dimension of revelation". Chapter one - "The God Who Speaks" - underscores "God's will to open and maintain a dialogue with man, in which God takes the initiative and reveals Himself in various ways". It also dwells on "the Christological aspect of the Word, while at the same time underlining the pneumatological dimension". This section of the document also focuses on the relationship between the Eucharist and Tradition, and on the theme of the inspiration and truth of the Bible.

"Our Response to the God Who Speaks" is the title of chapter two of part one. "Man is called to enter into the Alliance with his God, Who listens to him and responds to his questions. To God Who speaks, man responds with the faith. The most suitable prayer is that made using the words which were revealed by God and are conserved and written in the Bible", said Archbishop Eterovic.

Chapter three has as its title "The Interpretation of Sacred Scripture in the Church". The secretary general of the Synod of Bishops explained how "Sacred Scripture should be, as the Dogmatic Constitution 'Dei Verbum' says, 'the soul of sacred theology'. ... The biblical hermeneutics of Vatican Council II must be rediscovered, also in order to avoid a certain dualism evident in secularised interpretations which could give rise to a fundamentalist and spiritualist interpretation of Holy Scripture. Correct interpretation requires complementarity in a literal and spiritual sense, a harmony between faith and reason". This chapter also examines relations between Christians and Jews, noting that they enjoy "a very special relationship ... because they share a large part of the Scriptures".

Part two of the document is entitled "Verbum in Ecclesia". Chapter one - "The Word of God and the Church" - underlines how it is thanks to the Word of God and the effect of the Sacraments "that Jesus remains contemporary to mankind in the life of the Church", said the archbishop.

"The Liturgy, Privileged Setting for the Word of God" is the title of chapter two, in which the focus turns to "the vital link between Sacred Scripture and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist". The importance of the Lectionary is mentioned, as is that of the proclamation of the Word and the ministry of reader, with particular emphasis being laid on the preparation of the homily, a theme of great importance in this Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.

Chapter three of part two concerns "The Word of God in the Life of the Church" and highlights "the importance of biblical inspiration for pastoral activity, the biblical dimension of catechesis, the biblical formation of Christians, the use of Sacred Scripture in great ecclesial gahterings, and the Word of God in relation to vocations". Attention is also given to "lectio divina and Marian prayer", said the archbishop.

Part three of the document published today has as its title "Verbum Mundo". It draws attention to "the duty of Christians to announce the Word of God in the world in which they live and work". Chapter one - "The Church's Mission to Proclaim the Word of God to the World" - explains how the Church "is oriented towards the announcement 'ad gentes', to people who do not yet know the Word, ... but also to those who have already been baptised ... but need new evangelisation in order to rediscover the Word of God".

"The Word of God and Commitment to the World" is the title of chapter two, which recalls how "Christians are called to serve the Word of God in their most needy brothers and sisters and, hence, to commit themselves in society for reconciliation, justice and peace among peoples".

Chapter three of part three is dedicated to "The Word of God and Culture". It expresses the hope "that the Bible may become better known in schools and universities and that better use may be made of the social communications media, exploiting all the modern possibilities of technology. The theme of the inculturation of Sacred Scripture is also linked to the translation and diffusion of the Bible, which must be increased", said Archbishop Eterovic.

"The Word of God and Inter-religious Dialogue" is the title of chapter four. "Having established the value and topicality of inter-religious dialogue, 'Verbum Domini' ... supplies some important guidelines concerning dialogue between Christians and Muslims, and with members of other non-Christian religions, within the framework of a religious liberty which involves not only the freedom to profess one's faith in private and in public, but also freedom of conscience; in other words, of choosing one's religion".

In the conclusion, Archbishop Eterovic concluded his explanations, the Holy Father reiterates his exhortation to all Christians "to become increasingly familiar with Sacred Scripture".

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]



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This page is a archive of entries in the Sacred Scripture category from November 2010.

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