LECTIO DIVINAA Prayerful Method of Encountering Christ in His Living WordPreparations for the Prayer:₸ The Place: Choose a quiet place that is conducive to prayer, silence and reflection. It could be a bedroom, study, or the chapel at Church. In addition to the Bible, there could be a lit candle, symbolizing the presence of Christ who enlightens us through His Word. An icon of Christ can also be helpful to keep the focus on Christ. There must be sufficient light for reading. The place of prayer should also be “poor” in the sense that it should be free of distractions.₸ Purity of Heart: Avoid “pre-understandings.” Be open to what the Word really says, without projecting individual wishes into the text. In a sense, be “empty”; for God can not fill what is already full. Ask for the grace to have “an honest and a good heart” which will “hold fast” to the Word and bring forth abundant “fruit.” (Luke 8:15)₸ Choose a Text: Decide what text to pray before starting Lectio Divina. It can be a book of the Bible to be prayed on a continuous basis, or the readings for next Sunday’s Mass, or one or both of the readings from daily Mass. In learning to practice Lectio Divina it is best to start with the Gospels. Normally, ten to twenty verses are sufficient.₸ The Sacred Page: The text is called the sacred page to acknowledge its depth, the greatness of its meaning. Whoever approaches the text with faith knows that it can never be fully explored. The sacred page is more than a book, it is "a table laden with Wisdom, where the unfathomable divinity of the Savior is offered as food to all."₸ Gestures: Pray with the whole being, showing not just reverence for the Word with the mind, but also with the body. (Suggestions include bowing or kneeling before the Word prior to picking up the book, or holding the Bible to the heart while praying.)₸ Prayer: Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance. This is very important before beginning the first stages of Lectio Divina. The Second Vatican Council states: "prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that a dialogue takes place between God and man. For, 'we speak to Him when we pray; we listen to Him when we read the divine oracles.'" (Dogmatic Constitution of Divine Revelation, paragraph 25)₸ The Time: Select a time free from stress and distraction. For some early in the morning is best; for others, evening may be better. For a few daytime is optimal. Alertness is essential.₸ Duration: It is hard to practice Lectio in less than 30 minutes and it is difficult to go longer than 2 hours. The time may vary for each person.Purpose of Lectio Divina:₸ The Living Word: The Fathers of the Church, who passed on to us the practice of Lectio Divina, were convinced that Jesus lived in Sacred Scripture as He lived in Israel 2000 years ago. Sacred Scripture is more than a historical narration, more than a literary masterpiece, it is "Christ alive." They looked for Christ in every letter of Scripture.₸ Finding Christ: Every reading of Scripture must ask the question: “How does Christ fit here? How does this present Christ? How does this prefigure Christ?” The conclusion of a fruitful Lection Divina should bring the question: “Given what was discovered through the process of Lection, Meditatio and Oratio, and the grace that was given by God in contemplation, what is the action that Christ would expect? What would Christ do in this situation?”Step One – Lectio:₸ Lectio is an attentive reading of the Word. It is more a “harvesting” than a reading, using the best of biblical research – with the goal to arrive at the messages, suggestions, and inspirations that the text is providing. However, Lectio allows only an initial stage of understanding.₸ Lectio is also the most crucial state of Lectio Divina. If the text is misunderstood, or details are missed, the basis for further steps is seriously compromised.₸ Read slowly, out loud, hear the words, understand the characters, dialogue and scene. Reread the texts several times.₸ Consult the notes of a good study Bible at this stage, if it is possible. It is also useful to have a commentary on the text.₸ Ask the question: “What was the author of this biblical text consciously trying to communicate when he wrote this?”Step Two - Meditatio: ₸ Certain themes will come to the forefront in the Lectio stage, and will be developed during Meditatio. What are the spiritual-theological themes of the text? The themes must be central, not peripheral.₸ Choose a word, line or image that struck during the reading, and reflect how this theme is presented in the passage. What is the scene? What is the experience of each person in the scene? How is the theme presented in the entire book, or in the entire Bible? Most importantly, how does this theme relate to Christ?₸ Mediatio is an action of the mind that is ardently seeking the knowledge of hidden things, under the guidance of reason. If Lectio is seeking, then Mediatio is finding.₸ Try to “chew” the Word – to savor it – to discover its deepest nourishment. Listen to the Word with the ear of the heart.Step Three - Oratio:₸ This is prayer to God – responding to God in the dialogue that He has begun and He has Himself revealed through His Word (Lectio and Meditatio). The words of Sacred Scripture come alive in words of praise, and are raised up to God as prayer; offering everything to God as incense, consumed by the love and truth revealed in the sacred page.₸ This prayer can be one of thanksgiving for insights. It can be a prayer of repentance brought about by the realization that God is challenging to conversion by means of His Word. A word or phrase of the text can become a prayer or chant.₸ Oratio personalizes the Word (Christ) – focusing every action of the day toward Him.Step Four - Contemplation:₸ Contemplatio is the most difficult stage to describe, because there is no description. It is “rest in God;” it is a “Prayer of Silence.”₸ Saint Bernard of Clairvaux says: “You touch God not with your hands, but with your love; not with the senses, but with the faith.” Contemplatio is beyond our ability to control; it is initiated by God.₸ During Contemplatio the mind does not “try” to receive, but must try simply “to be.” Distractions should be allowed to drift away.₸ Contemplatio is a complete act of trust, a belief that God acts in ways that are beyond comprehension or control. It is simply to be at peace in the presence of the One who has manifested Himself through the Word.Step Five - Operatio:₸ Operatio is a natural outflow of the previous steps. Having been deeply touched by the living Word, everything that follows – speaking, thinking, discerning, judging, acting must be an answer of faith. Having “seen” the Lord, this sight demands that His love be reciprocated; the Word of god invokes, projects and teaches how to realize it. This stage is very personal and it is unique for each individual.₸ Operatio may take the form of recognition, repentance, and conversion.₸ Care must be taken that, at this stage of Lectio Divina, actions are inspired by God, and not by the will. Since God’s will is different for each person, Operatio will vary.Some Post – Lectio Divina Considerations:₸ Modern life is filled with many interruptions: traffic jams, checkout lines, delays, etc. All of these can be excellent opportunities to return to the Word that was last studied, and continue to “chew on it”. Life’s interruptions can be gifts from God to transform His Word in daily living, as the Holy Spirit reveals more and more of the depth of that Word.₸ Sometimes, life experiences will shed light on the text during a particular day, thus continuing to give new insights into the message of Christ.₸ It is not unusual for an insight that was gained by one person to be of value to others; these insights are usually given by God for the benefit of many. So, in humility and faith, they should be shared with others, as the Holy Spirit leads.