Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Taste of Lectio

As supper begins on our second monastic day, I have an announcement.

It seems we are not finished with our "days."  We shall be having a third, and this one will be all about lectio.  That is:  we'll look at the monastic practice of lectio from as many "angles" as we can possibly manage.  We'll read about it, share the fruits of it in our lives, and most of all - we will hopefully be encouraged toward the practice of it. 

The hope - and certainly the prayer - is that, throughout the routines of our third "day," we will be drawn into an immersion in lectio.  After all, to be immersed in lectio is to be immersed in scripture.  And to be immersed in scripture is to be immersed in God. 

With this in mind, our supper refectory reading is again from Praying Scripture for a Change by Tim Gray.  As I am recommending this book, I hope the publishers would not mind my quoting from it here (perhaps they would consider this a "review").  The book is also available from

"Some might say 'Lectio Divina was invented by and for monks.  Can it really be practiced by ordinary people living busy lives?'  The answer to such a question is given by Pope Benedict XVI. Since the start of his pontificate in April 2005, Pope Benedict has strongly championed the use of lectio divina for everybody.... Pope Benedict said:  'if lectio divina is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church - I am convinced - a new spiritual springtime.'  In those words, the Holy Father is echoing Vatican II:  'The Church forcefully and specially exhorts all the Christian faithful... to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8) by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures...  Let them remember, however, that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that a dialogue takes place between God and man.'..." (Tim Gray, 2009 Ascension Press, p. 37).

"In contrast to meditation techniques aimed at emptying the mind, Christian meditation makes full use of the intellect in an effort to understand God's Word and to hear God's voice (p.62)

''Lectio (Latin for 'a reading') divina ('divine') literally means 'divine reading,' and refers to the reading of Sacred Scripture in the context of personal prayer."  (p. 26)

"A Carthusian monk named Guigo... begins his book (Ladder of Monks): 'one day when I was busy working with my hands I began to think about our spiritual work, and all at once four stages in spiritual exercise came into my mind: reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation.  These make a ladder for monks by which they are lifted up from earth to heaven.  It has few rungs, yet its length is immense and wonderful, for its lower end rests upon the earth, but its top pierces the clouds and touches heavenly secrets.'" (quoted by Gray on p. 27)

"As you practice lectio divina and read and meditate on God's Word, your mind falls in love with the truth."  (p. 96)   

Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

To continue our second monastic day, click this line