Tag Archives: Lectio Divina

Sharing Lectio Divina in Bristol

Lectio Divina Presentation Slide 11 (of 13)

It was very nice to meet Ed Cyzewski, in person, and the group in Bristol today, to share ancient Christian spiritual practice of Lectio Divina (“sacred reading”) with them. We shared the experience of prayer, scripture reading, and reflection.

It was a great joy.

Here is a slide, # 11. It’s the Scripture passage we…um….lectio-ed (Yes, it’s a new verb. Sarah Palin eat your heart out), plus the 4 movements of the exercise with bitty reminders of what each one is.

Do you have questions or comments about Lectio Divina?

When was the last time you practiced it, (or would you like to know more)?

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Speaking Event Sept. 26th

Author Ed Cyzewski and I will be teaming up to teach, pray, and experience God’s word, together with you, at this public event sponsored by the Redeemer Church, and called “The Basics of Reading and Praying Through the Bible.”

Redemption Church (link)

How should one read the Bible and study it?

What are spiritual practices, what are they for, and how does the use of the mysteriously named Lectio Divina benefit prayer and meditation on God’s word?

This Sunday, you will learn and experience this helpful prayer exercise for yourself with Lisa, and be better able to understand and utilize the Bible with Ed. You will be better equipped and motivated to grow closer to the Almighty God of the Bible through this engaging event.

If you’d like to find out more, or come, link here to the facebook event page.

No way to make it this time?

Contact Ed, or me to visit your group in the near future. See you soon! 🙂

Sunday Homily / Meditation / Lectio Divina

 Winter Sunrise NC

I present these two passages to you, from my own meditation time today, for your own reflection. Either one is a good choice for meditative prayer (Lectio Divina) which I have written about in previous posts. (You can do a search, or click on the appropriate category at the bottom of the page, for the 4 movements typical to this prayer form.) I have taken these two passages from the material offered in the Holy Bible: Mosaic by Tyndale, pages 58-59.

After reading these, please share your reflections.

Psalm 29:3-4

The voice of the LORD echoes above the sea.

The God of glory thunders.

The LORD thunders over the mighty sea.

The voice of the LORD is powerful;

the voice of the LORD is majestic.

O Love, How Deep

O Love, how deep, how broad, how high,

it fills the heart with ecstasy,

that God, the Son of God, should take

our mortal form for mortal’s sake.

For us he was baptized, and bore

his holy fast, and hungered sore;

for us temptation sharp he knew,

for us the tempter overthrew.

For us he prayed, for us he taught,

for us his daily works he wrought;

by words and signs and actions thus

still seeking not himself, but us.

For us to wicked men betrayed,

scourged, mocked, in purple arrayed,

he bore the shameful cross and death,

for us at length gave up his breath.

For us he rose from death again;

for us he went on high to reign;

for us he sent his Spirit here,

to guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.

To him whose boundless love has won

salvation for us through his Son,

to God the Father, glory be

both now and through eternity.

-Thomas Á Kempis (Germany/ c. 1380-1471) 

Response to Reader (New Age)

Delta asks:

I brought up the subject of Lectio Divina to my friend, thinking that we could use it together. Once a week we meet as prayer partners, and I thought this practice could be a really neat way to begin our time together. When I mentioned it, she hesitated and said it sounded like “New Age” stuff to her, not Christian, and it wasn’t in the Bible. She seemed really reluctant to give it a chance. What should I say to her, or should I let it go?

Lisa’s response:

The name “Lectio Divina” might do some of the scaring for your friend, but really the “Our Daily Bread” devotional is set up quite similarly to the basic movements of L.D. read, meditate, pray, rest/listen (or dwell/abide/apply) If it was just called “Reading with focused prayer”, maybe no one would care. The tradition of L. D. goes back to very early church times when the first manuscripts of scripture were made available, and Christians could read them out loud and ponder them, pray on them to God, and rest in God.

The nice fit for Evangelicals, for instance, as the major focus is on the Scripture, which Evangelicals LOVE. It puts the Bible in prominence for prayer, worship, and hearing from God. Meditation is Christian (of Yahweh). Personally, as someone in the Christian tradition, I refuse to let other religious/or spiritual sects rob me of what God has given us to grow, and adore and worship him. I think we are cheated to section off practices, used by other groups for other purposes, when they are there to use for our own loving of God. He is the object of our praise. He is our glory. The Christian tradition is rich with meaningful spiritual practices that may be less than cut and dry, or formulaic, but it doesn’t mean God hasn’t and doesn’t use them powerfully to change us into his likeness. The unfamiliar here is only unfamiliar to some, in our current culture and time. 

To be clear, I don’t submit that L.D. and contemplative ways, are a WAY to God, only one of many tools, or vehicles, available to ready our hearts for His good work.

The Contemplative part (movement 4) may be the hardest to understand for your friend, (i.e. most unfamiliar) because it’s more common in the Catholic tradition. Again, some like to think, and reason all spiritual actions out, and figure out the formula of it all. If it’s just being, and resting, enjoying God and listening…how can it be “working”? Where’s the doing part? What good could it REALLY be? So, I like to explain it as resting, and yielding to God. We learn our place. He is God, we are not. We are dependent on Him. We don’t have to *do*. That is the whole point. When we complete this discipline this way, the reorientation can be quite beneficial.

Should you bring it up again? Probably not if it’s a big stumbling block for her. I suggest you enjoy God privately with this enriching practice, and if you would really like to engage L. D. with another, send them here to learn about it, (do a search here for more on the topic) or explain it in terms that they might be more comfortable with, such as “Scripture Reading and Focused Prayer.” May God Bless you as you strive to walk closer to him.

prayer/scripture/meditation: Lectio Divina explained- Part II

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This is an edited excerpt from a paper I did on this topic. It involved my  research of the discipline (history, background, and details), and personal use of the discipline, as well. I will be making a reference piece available that can be kept in one’s Bible, and used for personal or group purposes. (Please keep in mind the following is ©Lisa Colón DeLay, 2008, and cannot be reproduced in any form without my written permission.) If you wish to share this with others, please link here, or pass along the URL. Thank you.

Please enjoy!

And God be close to you.


Lectio Divina

(Lectio-pronounced: LEX-ee-o)

Lectio Divina as a practice harkens back into early Christianity, to the desert fathers and mothers who practiced meditation on biblical texts.[1] In about 220 A.D., Origen, an early church father, who first taught in Alexandria, and then later in Caesarea, extolled the advantage of combining Scriptural reading with focus, regularity, and prayer–hallmarks of lectio divina.[2] An Eastern dessert monk, John Cassian in the early fifth century introduced the practice to Christians of the West. The Cistercian monks have traditionally combined reading, study, and meditation of scripture through the ages.[3] In the sixth century monasteries that followed the Rule of St. Benedict formally practiced the discipline as a normal rule of daily monastic life.[4] Benedict of Nursia, Italy (ca. 480-ca. 550) left Rome for the village life of Subaico, and built monastery life around community, encompassing manual labor, prayer, and scared reading at worship, and at meals.[5] Of course, attention to Scripture, for followers of Yahweh, is nothing new. For millennia, Jewish tradition has been renown for valuing the copy and preservation of Scriptural texts, meditation on God’s scared Words, and Scripture reading as a normal part of public and private life. Christian tradition follows in this stream as well, with reverence for the Word of the Lord.

In  the 12th century, Ladder of the Monks by Guigo II created a schematic pattern to lectio divina of four movements still commonly used: lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio.[6] Lectio divina has everything to do with listening. Whether we hear the Scripture when read repeatedly corporately, or we read it out loud several times, or we hear it in our minds, as we read repeat it–we are careful to listen. Lectio divina centers on reading and receiving from God. It also journeys into the contemplative tradition of Christianity as it involves much “prayer of the heart.”[7]

 Lectio

The first movement of lectio divina involves lectio–reading the text. The text is usually not very long, and is most often Scripture. However, some also dwell on passages of spiritual writing, by devout Christians, to draw them to deeper thought, prayer, or devotion.[1] In this movement, one reads the text several times carefully with “wide eyes”, but also, with the whole mind. With active reading and awareness, one reads the text cognizant of God’s power at work through the text.

Meditatio

After a deliberate reading of the text, one moves into meditatio. St. Benedict mentioned that one listens to the Word of God “with the ear of the heart.”[2] In meditation one ruminates, or chews on the text–digesting it, and working it over. One may find an association, poignant word, or image on which focus. In this way, he or she receives from Gods Word. Some present day applications of meditatio exemplify an intellectual preference. They involve consulting commentaries, digesting relating liturgy, or reading relating texts to study the sacred text more fully.[3]

 
Jean Leclercq explains medieval universities, unlike monasteries, differed in their use of lectio divina. Scholastic students approached Scripture as an object to be studied and investigated by subjecting questions to the text. This seems analogous to some of our contemporary Evangelical tendencies. In medieval times, a scholastic pupil questioned himself to the subject matter, and he “sought science and knowledge” in his quest. These students sought discovery remaining more “objective, theological, and cognitive.” Monastic disciples were content to stay more “subjective, devotional, and affective” in their habits.[4]

 Oratio

The meditatio movement flows into oratio–prayer that may be much like dialogue–both speaking and listening. Prayers of praise, worship, thanksgiving, supplication, confession, and so forth, may be a part of oratio.[5] Lectio divina ends in a contemplative phase, though it is sandwiched by meditative prayer and contemplative prayer. Some of this prayer is cerebral and responsive, but it gives way to “prayer of the heart.” Kenneth Boa describes meditative prayer as a more “intellectual exercise.”It engages us more actively as we become thoughtful, vocal, and imaged based compared to contemplative prayer.[6]

Contemplatio

In contrast with the meditative prayer of oratio, contemplative prayer is far more mysterious. One finds it in silence, and in the loss of activity and images. In this stage, one abides and receives from God with “interior stillness.”[7] The contemplatio movement of the lectio exercise exists beyond words. One may discover the deep knowing of the Almighty God who is within, as well as strength, comfort, and a rich and powerful feature of the discipline. Thomas Merton beautifully describes the conversation with God thus: “God takes care to provide [the soul] with everything it desires, and to such an extent that it often finds within itself a very savory, delicious nourishment, though it never sought nor did anything to obtain it, and in no way contributed to it itself, except by its consent.”[8]
This contemplative way is so reflective and quiet as to be rather counter-cultural, existing against our noisy and fast-paced times. In this movement, our thoughts dim, our intellect releases, and we rest in God’scomfort, presence, and power. Our hearts find him, and he fills our hearts. This contemplative movement is a passive way. Why contemplate God in such a way? Thomas Merton answers this question well in following quote:
“What is the purpose of meditation in the sense of “prayer of the heart”? In the ‘prayer of the heart’ we seek first of all the deepest ground of our identity in God. We do not reason about dogmas of faith, or “the mysteries.” We seek rather to gain a direct existential grasp, a personal experience of the deepest truths of life and faith, finding ourselves in God’s truth.”[9] As we center ourselves in God, we may more easily perceive Reality, as God is the source and the fullness of Reality itself.Practical uses in the contemporary church:

Tony Jones notes that lectio divina is gaining in popularity in contemporary churches worldwide.[10] Certainly within the Emergent church movement in North America, the practice has growing appeal, and a number of recent books have come out on the topic. Perhaps the postmodern love of mystery coupled with the renewed interest in ancient church practices has piqued the level of interest. Various contemporary churches are reintroducing the practice into facets of worship and prayer venues.

Lectio divina has various specific practical uses in the contemporary church, some of which have already been mentioned, such as devotional or inspirational Christian writing, group prayer and worship, and bible study. Sarah Butler notes the practice of lectio divina has allowed her to better hear the rhythm of the people entrusted to her ministerial care. The practice of listening and trusting God, in this way, has grown a deeper place in her heart for her people, and a greater compassion for them. She elegantly describes that lectio divina also increased the ability to experience “God’s embrace in the midst of suffering.”[11]

Gregory Polan explains that lectio divina is of particular contemporary benefit for spiritual nourishment in Eucharistic Liturgy at the “Table of the body of the Risen Christ.”He finds lectio divina exceedingly rich for the church to bring added meaning and reflection to this corporate event.[12]

This is only a small blurb on the topic Lectio Divina, and its uses and benefits. My experience of the regular practice of it reaped a spectrum of interactions with God from vivacious jubilation, poignant insights, and gentle comfort, to awkward silences, and even periods of dryness. I write about it now, not so one can inject another quick tactic into one’s life to see spiritual jackpot. In reality, the spiritual journey consists of varying terrain. I present this information now so those desiring to ready themselves more for God’s gracious work can yield and place themselves in a better spot for the seeds of grace he alone plants and nourishes.

If you have any questions about Lectio Divina, or would like to share your experiences (whether positive, or negative) I welcome your comments.


 


[1] Jones. The Sacred Way, 54. 

 

 

 

[2] Gregory J. Polan. Lectio Divina: Reading and Praying the Word of God. Liturgical Ministry, no. 12 (Fall 2003): 203.

[3] Schneiders. Biblical Spirituality,140.

[4] Boa, 175.

[5] Schneiders, 140.

[6] Boa, 182.

[7] Ibid., 182.

[8] Merton, Contemplative Prayer, 40.

[9] Ibid., 82.

[10] Jones, 54.

[11] Sarah Butler. Lectio Divina as a Tool for Discernment. Sewanee Theological Review, 43:3 (Pentcost 2000): 303.

[12] Polan, 206.

Coming Soon…

My August project will be to summarize some helpful spiritual disciplines, and design some easy-to-understand materials. Tell me what disciplines or spiritual formation topics you’d like to know about, for yourself, your small group, church, family, or other uses. Different forms of prayer? Lectio Divina? Meditation? Fasting? Sabbath? Examen? Spiritual Direction? It’s time to put all these graduate school studies to good use!

Prayer / Sacred Reading

Lectio Divina means sacred reading, and it can be a wonderful way to involve Scripture to meditate and pray to our Creator. It is a worshipful time away with God that helps to build a time of close communion with the Divine. It isn’t a time of pouring a heap of requests at God’s feet, but it’s a time of respectful listening for God, waiting, and allowing God be made known.

A friend of mine from New Zealand describes this spiritual practice in simple terms. (click the link) I will add more posts about it myself, later. I thought many of you could benefit from his input. Enjoy a time of lectio divina with your maker soon.

And please get back to me (leaving a comment, or on the contact page) with what it was like for you (whether positive, negative, or neutral).