Thursday, January 21, 2010
Lectio Divina. I decided to speak on this subject because many of my postings are likely to come from its fruits. There is much to say on this and, though I plan to cover as much as possible now, I may add more later on; either to this post or a continuation post. Rather than speaking from personal knowledge, however, I think it would be far better to take some excerpts from a retreat by Fr. Marc-Daniel, o.cist. If you ever get the opportunity, do not hesitate to attend a retreat by him... he's splendid. Anyway, this is how he lists the process of Lectio:
Lectio: the seeking (reading)
Meditatio: the encounter
Most of you are familiar with the process of studying... You don't just pick up a textbook, read it through, and expect to learn the information it contains. Lectio Divina is the traditional method of saints for seeking God in their reading. It is a special way of reading in which the soul reaps, not just words, but meaning from what is read.
The first part is Lectio, that is, reading. Find a small piece of text to focus on, one that you believe God may be speaking to you through. Generally it is easier to delve deeply into a few words than many words. Read carefully until this piece of text is found, then move on to step two.
Meditatio. Focus on what you have read... apply your whole being to it and listen to what it tells you. In this way a few written words take on meaning. For instance, if I decided to focus on Christ's words: "...those who do not enter the sheep fold by the gate are theives," I could see the words... but later detect that the thieves, those who try to steal Christ's sheep, are people who teach heresy to the Church and so on. Apply meaning to this thing you have read.
Next is Oratio... to pray. When we study, we do not fully understand our own thoughts on a certain topic until they are expressed. By praying, or whispering to God about what He has told us, we are "finalizing" this meaning that has been given to it. We are asking Him to show us more, telling Him what we have learned, and then progressing to a deeper level of understanding based on the theme of our meditations.
Contemplation... communion with Christ. Reaching this step takes time and practice. It is a total absorption into the Mystery. When you read, meditate, and pray you are paving the way for a state of love. One who has reached contemplation understands that there is a time of communion with the Beloved, Christ, that is comprised completely of love, envelopment into His heart. A time when the spirit soars and all else falls out of the mind.
The final step is the application of what you have learned, so that it bears fruit. What good is studying, if you do not apply what you have learned? Such good fruits as are born during Lectio Divina must be applied to one's own life.
Through Lectio Divina we find quiet understanding... it is a time reserved for oneself and God. When I practice Lectio I find peace and deep feeling. By sitting down in quiet, I discover things in words I've heard a hundred times over that I had not thought of before. I grow closer to the Fountain of Wisdom as I speak to Him and thank Him concerning what I have learned. Truly, Lectio is the accepting of God as your teacher. Many of the ideas I have posted here, and will post here, have grown from this very method.