Sorry for the lateness of this post, this week has been slightly hectic with life and school
impeding upon my more enjoyable pastimes.
Personally, Lectio Divina is one of my favorite spiritual practices from the church. This practice allows the Word to
speak to us and into our lives. I know that some may have problems with this because of the Catholic roots; however, I think that by ignoring Catholic tradition we lose a large portion of our heritage and there is much good in these practices.I hope you take the time to practice this with me! There are several steps to take into consideration when going through Lectio Divina:
First, it is a good idea to find a quiet place that you are relatively comfortable in. This could be a park, your bedroom, but namely anywhere that it is quiet will do. We are surrounded by noise all day long, taking time to cancel that noise out is incredibly valuable. Once you do that, I recommend spending a few minutes preparing myself and talking to God. This can involve prayer or just quiet contemplation on the person of God and who he is.
Now to the actual reading. Any scripture will do, the Psalms and the Gospels are the most common. The length of the passage should be about 10-15 verses (for example parables like the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son are fantastic places to start, while Leviticus might be a little more difficult). If there is a specific one that you want to read though, go ahead and go for that.
Once everything is prepared you begin to read the Scripture, this is called Lectio in Latin. During this period of time, you read the scriptures slowly, carefully, and let the words speak into your life. You can read it several times or you might find yourself reading a phrase or word over and over again. Whatever you do, do not rush this time of reading in an effort to get through it. This is a conversation and right now you are listening to what the other person has to say. You wouldn’t tell your wife or your friends to get on with it when you are in the middle of a deep conversation would you?
The next stage is called Meditatio in Latin. It literally means to meditate on what you have read. This is where you and God talk together on what this verse means for your life and how you want to apply it in your daily context. I would recommend not thinking of it as an emptying of the mind like some Eastern traditions. Instead this is where we are focusing on one aspect of the Word of God and allowing it to change our way of thinking. This normally takes a few minutes so enjoy the process and what God has to say.
The third step, Oratio, is prayer through what we have learned. Now, you get to talk back. You have been listening to the Word for the last few minutes and have allowed it to challenge your view of the world. Now, what do you say back? Remember this is a conversation not a monologue. Be attentive to what God has been saying and speak about what is on your mind.
Finally, we end with Contemplatio which literally means contemplation. This final step is a communion with God where you enjoy one another’s presence as the Holy Spirit works on your heart. Sometimes in life, words just clutter our minds and thoughts and in this moment it is a time for silence and to focus on the person of God. Do not rush this part, just rest.
That is all there is to it. Lectio Divina is one of those practices that has spanned the ages to the early monks. It is a valuable practice for us in a world of chaos and noise to just come and quietly contemplate who God is and allow him to speak into our lives. However, it may be valuable for you or it may not. If this is one practice that does not work well for you, it does not make you a substandard Christian, it means you are wired differently. I find that this practice helps me to refocus myself on who God is and who I am in relation to him. It allows me to rest and be at peace, even if it is only for 15 minutes. I hope that you take the time to rest and recover in God’s presence this Christmas season. I don’t know about you but I have been feeling the stress and the chaos of this semester and holiday season, it is madness. God continues to work in our lives and to shape our understanding of him, this is just one method to go about it.
Next week I will probably not write until Saturday as I am traveling to the Pacific Northwest (otherwise known as the Promised Land) on Friday. I am thinking of diving into the concept of Continuous Prayer. But I will see you next week regardless.
Here are some sources that might help you in learning more about Lectio Divina.
May your week be filled with light.