Written on: November 24, 2014
Believe it or not, there is one waiting for you when you engage in Lectio Divina, that is, engage in the act of “inner texting” or “sacred reading” of the Word of God in Holy Scripture. Try it. You may be surprised by what is awaiting you today! Of course, if you are new at it, it might take a little practice before Scripture speaks directly to you in your present circumstances — whatever they may be. Such “inner texting” is a practice that quite simply involves a four-step plan of Reading, Reflecting, Responding, and Resting.
First, break open the Bible and choose a passage. In the beginning, it is better to select a short reading such as one or two verses of a favorite psalm from the Old Testament or a beloved parable or story from the New Testament.
Begin by asking the Holy Spirit to help you unwrap the meaning of the passage as you start Reading it slowly and reverently, “listening” to the words with the “ear” of your heart. If a particular word or phrase catches your attention, stay with it, repeating it gently in your heart and mind for a minute or two. (You might ask the question: “What does this passage say?)
Next, read the passage a second time and pause again for one or two minutes. This is the time for Reflecting or meditating on what the words seem to be saying to you in the present moment. (“What does this passage say to me?”)
Next, read the passage a third time. Pause again. This is the period for Responding quietly in your heart to the feelings and/or questions that may be arising in reaction to what you sense is the meaning of the passage for you at this time. Sometimes it may be a question that you want to probe more deeply as you go about your normal daily activities. (For example: “What do I say to God and what is God saying to me?”) Sometimes, it is simply a grateful acknowledgment that you have “heard” God’s message and hope to continue this “conversation” another time.
Read the passage for a fourth time. Take several moments for quiet Resting, allowing yourself to experience the silent presence of God in your inner-most being. This is also the moment for you to pose this question: “How can I live out God’s word practically in my day-to-day life?”
It is appropriate to close this “sacred texting” period with a familiar prayer, such as the Lord’s Prayer or the Doxology (“Glory be….”). Or, if the reading evokes a familiar hymn and you are so inclined, you might “sing” in your heart a verse or two as a closing prayer of gratitude for this time spent in God’s presence.
Benedict, XVI. Reflections on Dei Verbum, Address, Rome, Italy, Castel Gandolfo, September 16, 2005.
Dysinger, Luke, OSB. “Guide to Lectio Divina”. Article, Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, Liturgical Press; www.giveusthisday.org 2014.
Keating, Thomas. The Classic Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina. Article, Contemplative Outreach, Butler NJ; www.contemplativeoutreach.org 2000.
Tasto, Maria. The Transforming Power of Lectio Divina: How to pray with Scripture, Twenty-Third Publications; www.23rdpublications.com 2013.
Sister Frances Whitman leads Sisters, Associates, and other interested people in Centering Prayer experiences on Thursday evenings at our Yardley Motherhouse. You are welcome to join us. See our website for more information