Friday, May 25, 2012

The Practice of Divine Reading-Lectio Divina

The Practice of Divine Reading- Lectio Divina

“Yeshua Christ, the Word which came out of Silence.” - St. Ignatius of Antioch
“God spoke one Word in silence from all eternity and He spoke it in
silence, and it is in silence that we hear It." –John of the Cross
Lectio Divina and Prayer of the Heart- The transformation of one’s life may be seen as the transition from living life from the mind, the thoughts, the emotions and the instincts to living life fully from the Heart, the Center of our being, the place of the Indwelling God. In the Heart Christ can come fully alive in us, so that “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) Lectio Divina is the formalized movement from the mind and conceptual reflection on scripture to listening and experiencing the Presence of Christ in the Heart.

There are four interior movements of Lectio Divina or Divine Reading:

1. Reading-(Lectio)- We begin by choosing a scriptural text. The choice is an intuitive one, or it may be the lectionary readings for the day or week. We read the text slowly to ourselves, listening carefully to each work. At this level we listen deeply to the written word of God, listening to those words or phrases in the reading that seem to speak to us in a special way. This is a receptive way of reading and listening, open to receive, as the parable of the seed falling on fertile ground.

2. Reflecting (meditatio)- We read the scriptural text again a second time. In this movement we are listening to an interior reflection to the word or phrase which speaks to us. How is it touching us within? We are listening receptively rather than analyzing or interpreting, asking the question, in what way God touching us, speaking to us about our own life. It is important to remember that this is not Bible study or objective interpretation, or a theological study, but a personal reflection to the Living Word of God speaking to us through the written word.  It is a deeper movement toward listening and pondering in our interior life.

3. Responding (oratio)- We listen again a third time to the scriptural text as it speaks to us.  This time in the third movement of Lectio we allow a spontaneous prayer to arise in response to the listening and reflecting. How do we open in our desire in response God’s word? How do we open in our longing for the Living Word of God, Christ, to flame up within us? In what way do we respond to the call to be transformed in God’s Love? What are the inner responses of praise, gratitude, contrition, or new commitment?  We may express this response in words and in human emotion and verbal prayer.

4. Resting in God (contemplatio) We listen again to the words of the text, moving into interior silence and communion. This is a movement into intimacy beyond words and concepts. This is a movement into pure Faith or Trust. Here we rest in the Heart of Christ alone and seek no other thing. Here we anchor in the Heart, in the Center of our being, where the living Spirit of Christ dwells. We move beyond the mediation of words and thoughts, into pure Presence and Adoration, into pure self-giving Love. This longing, this desire, this commitment to take refuge, to rest in Love of Christ alone, rather than our own thoughts, emotions, agendas, and inclinations, is the movement into pure Prayer of the Heart or contemplation. Through this process of Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading/Listening, the textual Word of God has been the bridge to abiding in Christ, the Living Word of God in our own heart.