With us all being at home more due to Covid-19, it’s an opportunity to reconsider how best we spend our time. The ancient practice of Lectio Divina is something worth considering as we search for the holy in the midst of the everyday.
Very simply put, Lectio Divina is the act of praying with the Bible. But we do so in a very active way with our mind and heart open to God. It assumes that God speaks to us through the scriptures in the unique circumstances of our lives, responding in new ways each time. (1)
There are four steps or movements
- Reading – Lectio. We get ourselves into a position where we can be relaxed and yet alert. We become mindful of our breathing and settle into this time. Then we read the text through slowly once or twice, listening for a word, sentence or verse that grabs our attention in some way. It may encourage or it may disturb but in some way it stands out. We repeat that word or sentence in silence
- Reflection – Meditatio. We read the whole text again and allow time for the word which stands out to take hold of our imagination and our senses. What pictures or feelings come to mind? Perhaps a memory? Maybe a smell, sound or taste?
- Speech – Oratio. Here we think about how those things stirring within us connect to our everyday lives. And we then respond to that in prayer, if possible out loud. We look to a new awareness or a fresh action. What are we being called to do? We think particularly of how we can be of service to others and not just our personal concerns
- Contemplation – Contemplatio. Finally, we rest in God’s presence. Being rather than doing. A time to give thanks for God’s presence with us during this time of prayer. Become mindful of our breathing again as we become aware of our surroundings. It may be helpful to keep a journal of what especially spoke to us
Good passages to start with
Have a look at these portions of scripture to begin with:
- Isaiah 55: 10-12a – “For as the rain and snow come down from heaven…”
- Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone…”
- Ezekiel 36: 26-27a – “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you…”
- Proverbs 1: 20-23 – “Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice…”
- Matthew 13: 3-9 – “Listen! A sower went out to sow…”
- Or try the given Bible readings for each Sunday. Here are the ones for March
Why not try the same Lectio Divina approach with a piece of art? Perhaps Rublev’s icon on the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah? Or maybe try a section of music? Or with nature? You could even do it with your daily newspaper… The questions should be the same. What new awareness do I have? What new thing is God calling me to do?
Further recommended reading:
- Lectio Divina – The Sacred Art: Christine Valters Paintner.
- Sacred Reading – The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina: Michael Casey.
- Breathing, I pray: Ivan Mann.