Lectio divina is an ancient way of praying the scriptures. It is more than just reading the Bible; it is reading scripture in a way that takes in the words, seeks out the meaning, responds to the message and rests in the fullness of the Word. Lectio divina is an integral part of the prayer life of Benedictines, along with Liturgy of the Hours, Centering Prayer and Sunday Eucharist.
Lectio can be done privately or in a group.
When done as personal prayer, it involves four actions. First, we actually read the scripture passage, taking in the words. We read slowly, often out loud. We read each word, each phrase, each sentence. We may read it several times, as carefully as if we were memorizing the passage, so that no word or phrase is skipped over.
Next, we meditate on the passage, seeking out its meaning. What characters are presented, who are they? What do they feel? What are they thinking? What explains their reaction? Can we picture the setting and its significance to the story?
The third step is to respond to the passage in prayer: what message is there for us in these verses? What are we called to do? We ask God to help us listen and take action.
Finally, we rest in the fullness of the Word of God, in silence, allowing our hearts to contemplate the message, without words, without thoughts.
Lectio divina can also be done as a group. At Holy Wisdom Monastery, we prepare for the Sunday Eucharist by doing grouplectio divina on the Sunday Gospel just before Saturday Vigil. There are variations on how group lectio is done, but at Holy Wisdom, we read the Sunday Gospel lesson through four times. After the first reading, we each say aloud the word or phrase that catches our attention; after the second reading, we say aloud the emotion that is stirred in us by the reading; after the third reading, we share what this passage is saying to us, how it relates to our lives, what it calls us to. In each of these steps, we do not comment on each other’s sharing, but hold it gently in our hearts. Finally, after the fourth reading, we respond with prayer, and then proceed to the oratory for Vigil.
You are welcome to join us on Saturday after the evening meal in the Gathering Area in the Monastery for group lectio. Personal retreatants and community members find the Saturday night lectio mutually enriching and good preparation for Sunday liturgy.