The Elizabethan is a monthly update of parish and ministry happenings. Any items for the newsletter should be sent by the fourth Friday of the month to the church office email address: email@example.com.
Current Edition of the Newsletter: ElizabethanNOV -17
From Fr. John: LECTIO DIVINA: DIVINE READING
Contemplation isn’t a goal to be achieved through some method, but is a recurring gift from of grace to be simply accepted with gratitude.
Lectio divina, an ancient art once practiced by many Christians, is a technique of slow, contemplative reading that enables a deeper union with God. Typically, the readings are from scripture, but any spiritually nourishing work will suffice. The practice is one of the precious treasures and defining characteristics of Benedictine monastics, together with the daily liturgy and manual labor.
Lectio divina is based on the practice of listening deeply, to hear as St. Benedict wrote, “with the ear of our hearts” for the still, small voice of God; the “faint murmuring sound” that is God’s voice touching our hearts. Consequently, our attunement to the presence of God in scripture requires that we first become still and silent in heart, mind and body. This is also the reason for the difference in the pace of reading from what we use when we are reading for other purposes.
The technique has four basic steps. In the first step, lectio, we read slowly, attentively, gently listening to hear a word or phrase that is God’s word for us this day. Once a word or a passage speaks to us in a personal way, we “ruminate” on it. Consider the example of Mary in Luke’s Gospel “pondering in her heart” what she saw and heard of Christ. In the second step, meditatio, we take in the word and allow it to interact with us. The third step is oratio is prayer understood both as dialogue with God and as the offering of ourselves to God. Here we allow that which has touched our hearts and upon which we have pondered to merge with our deepest selves. The last step is contemplatio in which we simply rest in the presence of God. In this wordless, quiet rest we return to the silence that began our session.
If you think of practice and contemplation as the two poles of our underlying, on-going spiritual rhythm and you will see the gentle oscillation back and forth between spiritual “activity” and “receptivity” that lectio divina establishes.
The direction of our practice is not outward in the offering good works, but inward into the depths of the soul where the Spirit is constantly transforming us. Our activity in this sense is seeing who we truly are and allowing ourselves to be remade into what God intends us to become. In contemplation, we move without moving from spiritual doing to learning simply to be, that is, to exist in the presence of our loving God. Contemplation isn’t a goal to be achieved through some method, but is a recurring gift from of grace to be simply accepted with gratitude.
Read more in the November newsletter >> ElizabethanNOV -17
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