Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading, is a monastic tradition that has been around since the beginning. Very few people at that time could read and even less had books. Books were too expensive and only for the rich, so for those who wished to feed on the Word of God they would memorize verses, paragraphs, chapters, and they say that even one saint may have memorized all of scripture.
These holy men and women would then mull over the words of scripture, seeking to go beyond the superficial meaning. What was being said to the heart? What was God trying to convey at this time? Many monks and nuns would be so fixated on one word from the scriptures that they could meditate and use it as a source for their prayer for days.
Lectio Divine is no easy task! There is a method to it and rather than my going through it here and taking up more time from you I will share what Saint Meinrad has to say about Lectio Divina.
In my personal experience – and I’m certainly no expert in lectio – I have come to realize that this is an exercise that once you begin you cannot stop or you will lose what you have gained. From the link above you’ve seen the “process” for lectio but that is not the heart of it. Lectio is about first placing yourself in the presence of the Father with the Spirit blowing as He wills and the Word speaking to the heart. We are to dispose ourselves to hearing his voice by listening with the ear of our hearts.
There will be times when lectio will seem dry and dull. Do not give up! This is the time to continue on knowing that Christ is with you in the desert. You may not feel his presence but he is with you more than you know, leading you to deeper growth, where you can trust in him alone.
There will also be times of great graces during lectio. One will be caught off guard by a phrase, a word, a different way of hearing what was said in the scriptures, that touches their heart in a way they never knew possible. These are moments of grace and gifts from God but we must remember that they are not God.
One great thing about lectio is that it allows us to pray throughout the day. When we get to the point where one word or one phrase from scripture sticks in our hearts then we know that we can pray without ceasing that day. All we must do is repeat that phrase, that word, over and over again while we go about our duties and we know that we are communing with God. He has touched our hearts and inflamed them with love. We must help the flames to stay lit.
During this time one can feel as though we’ve been “caught up” in God. That’s the best way in which I would know how to describe it. There are no words, no images, you know where you are and yet you’re consumed with the fire of Love. That moment may be brief or it may be long. Do nothing to disturb it and nothing to try and artificially continue it. This – at least in my limited knowledge – is contemplation. It doesn’t happen all the time and no one knows how, when or if it will happen.
In the end we must always thank God for who He is and what He is. We must thank him for His unbounded mercy and love which He has shown us through Christ. We must thank Him for the gifts He has given us (seen or unseen) during this time of lectio divina. We must rise up, take what God has given us and bring it into the world as Catholics and as Oblates. God’s love asks for our love in return which in turn requires us to spread His Gospel to the whole world. Let us give thank for all that he has done.