LECTIO DIVINA (Sacred Reading)
A Way to deepen your practice of prayer for Lent
Through Lectio Divina we learn to know the heart of God, through the Word of God. (Saint Gregory the Great)
“The purpose of lectio is to help us respond to the presence of God in his Word. . . Lectio prepares us for the mystery of God”
(From Community of Love, “The Monastic Adventure”. John Main OSB)
In the centuries-old tradition of lectio divina – which is Latin for sacred reading – it is suggested that you first read a passage of scripture. After this first reading go back to the beginning of the passage and spend some time – even 15 or 20 minutes if you can - reverently turning the passage over in your heart. Read slowly and lovingly, pausing whenever the words draw you into silence. Close your eyes and experience the meaning of the words for you now. But even more, experience the presence found in them. Let the reality of the words become more and more a part of your being.
During the time of lectio, the historical setting of the passage is not as important as the place it has in your life now. In a real sense, you are not the same person you were ten, five or even one year ago. Since you are always a ‘new person’ your response to the Word will never be the same. You may find yourself making acts of the will to conform your life more to the message of the text. One day you may rest in a deep peace. Another day you may be aware of tension, anger or sorrow. These feelings should not cause any anxiety because they are all part of God’s healing action at work in you. In time, you will learn to accept yourself as a work-in-progress, and your growing appreciation for the Living Word of God will lead you to a life of constant wonder, gratitude and love.
(Adapted from - The Burning Heart, Gregory Ryan)
A Simple Way of Lectio Divina
Prepare for your time of Lectio by a short period of silence. Sit still, close your eyes, slowly take a deep breath and slowly breath out placing your intentions into God’s hands. Do this three or four times to relax your body and clear your mind.
Allow 15 – 20 minutes to slowly move through the stages outlined below and, if you can, make this a regular practice during the time of Lent.
Reading / Lectio
Select a passage of scripture to read. For Lent this could be the Gospel or Epistle reading for the day or from the following Sunday. Select only one passage.
The selected passage is read slowly, three times. Pause after each reading, sitting still and silently.
After the second reading, ask yourself, “What am I hearing”? Try to identify a word or a phrase from the reading that has stood out for you and say it, out loud.
After the third reading, ask yourself again, “What am I hearing”? You may identify a different word or phrase this time, or the same, but, say it out loud, again.
Meditation / Meditatio
(Repetition) Now spend a time, (maybe 10 or 15 minutes, if possible) not talking with others but alone with the passage, and repeat your word or phrase over and over in your mind, allowing it to sink into and act on your heart, noticing any feelings, thoughts, questions arising and allow these to touch your life. “How is this touching me?” You may like to keep some written notes at this stage or you might like to take a short walk in your garden.
Prayer / Oratio
(Listening) Listen for what you sense the Lord is saying to you now. Take this to heart and ask for the grace to be taught and formed by the Word of God.
What am I hearing?
How is this touching me?
What new insight am I being invited to embrace?
How will I respond?
You could also form a short prayer around your response.
Contemplation / Contemplatio
Stay quietly with whatever is happening, and trust this. Now is the time to stop pondering, and allow yourself to be with what is, knowing that the Lord loves you and wants what is best for you.
“You will find that lectio is an enriching form of prayer. All prayer is a participation in the prayer of Jesus to his Father. In that sense all our forms of prayer are preparations for the grace of participation.” (Laurence Freeman OSB)