Reading the Scriptures: Lectio Divina
Following last week’s post, here are some practical aspects (they are not necessarily ‘steps’) to guide you as you read Scripture:
I. Reading: Spending Time with the Biblical Text
A. Read to become familiar (write out the text)
B. Read to Learn the Teachings of the Faith
Luke 24:27-46 27 “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself… And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?’ … 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.’”
C. Read to hear the Lord
“By this revelation, therefore, the invisible God (see Col 1:15; 1Tim 1:17), out of the immensity of his love, speaks to men and women as friends (see Ex 33:11; Jn 15:14-15) and associates with them (see Bar 3:38) that he might invite them to communion with himself and receive them into his company” (DV, 2).
II. Meditating: Applying Your Mind to What the Text is Talking About
A. When an incident is being recounted:
Search out its “interior reality,” its mystery
Place yourself there (Martha and Mary; the healing of a blind man)
Use the Rosary
Look at a good commentary
B. When a teaching is being given (example: the Letters in the New Testament):
Seek to understand the words (example: use a concordance, the Catechism, a Bible Dictionary, etc.)
Again, use a commentary
C. Move with the Psalms
III. Prayer: Speak to the Lord About What Is On Your Mind From the Reading
A. Beg for understanding (and then wait in silence for a while)
B. Ask the Lord to show you the obstacles in you preventing you from understanding
C. Let the Holy Spirit bring what your mind has learned (and ultimately your mind itself) into your heart
D. Speak to Him of your longing
IV. Contemplation: Enjoy the Lord’s Company and Be Changed by His Presence
“Reading seeks for the sweetness of a blessed life, meditation perceives it, prayer asks for it, contemplation tastes it. Reading, as it were, puts food whole into the mouth, meditation chews it and breaks it up, prayer extracts its flavor, contemplation is the sweetness itself which gladdens and refreshes. Reading works on the outside, meditation on the inner core, prayer asks for what we long for, contemplation gives us delight in the sweetness we have found” (Guigo the Carthusian).
- What is your favorite way of reading Scripture?
- Name three recent occasions when you have been blessed by reading Scripture.
- What practical actions do you take that could be classed as “meditation”?
- Can you get at least three hours a week for Lectio Divina?