Just what is Lectio Divina? It is Latin for Sacred Reading…a five step “process” for guided prayer.
Step 1 — Lectio: the reading itself. Let’s use, for example, Mark 10:46-52 – about the blind man, Bartimaeus. The whole passage would be read slowly and prayerfully until perhaps, something strikes you. Perhaps it is Bartimaeus’ humility in crying out to Jesus. Perhaps it’s Jesus’ compassion. Perhaps – the jeering crowd catches your attention. Let yourself enter into the scene. When Jesus asks, “What do you want Me to do for you?”…do you have the courage to name your need to Him? Do you know your need? You may need to read the passage more than once. Pray first to the Holy Spirit to guide you. Read it aloud in a very soft voice…sometimes we know passages so well we tend to just skim them…hard to do if you read it aloud. The great Carmelite Saint Teresa of Avila could scarcely ever get the words “Our Father” out of her mouth before she’d burst into tears because she was always so struck that the God and Father of Jesus Christ could also allow her to call him Father, too. Some people stay with a particular passage for days or weeks, drawing all they can out of it. My own scrolling marquee computer screen saver is, “The Father himself loves you” (JN 16:27). I also enjoy “…in the tender compassion of our God…” (LK 1:78). Tender compassion….whew! A God of all creation, of heaven and earth filled with tender compassion…for the likes of me! Lord, I am not worthy…but only say the word and my soul will be healed.
Step 2 — Meditation (Meditation): Meditate on the scene….what happens? What is the “cloak” that you wrap yourself in to avoid notice? Sin? Pride? Terrible self-esteem? Would you have the courage to run to him if he called you to himself? Do you know what your needs are to voice them to Jesus? In another version of the same passage (Matthew 9:28) Jesus first asks the blind man, “Do you believe I can do this for you?” Do you believe that Jesus can help/heal you? Do you believe that he wants to heal you? Will you let go and allow him to heal you?
Step 3 — Oratio (prayer): Pray about this. What is your prayer? “Lord, I want to see”, or, Lord, I am hard on others…I want to learn compassion”, or…
Step 4 — Contemplation (contemplation): Just sitting in quiet presence/awe of the experience thus far
Step 5 — Actio (action): What does this experience call me to do? Act on it. Where does the Holy Spirit lead you? What must you do? If you were/are part of the jeering crowd surrounding Bartimaeus, whom do you need to be more merciful to? Are you jeering at our nation’s illegal immigrants? The co-worker who is often late for work and doesn’t seem to ever get reprimanded? The person who wronged you 20+ years ago and you still speak of him/her with such fire in your voice? After you have named your need to Jesus, what happens next in your life?
For a far better explanation of what I can offer, I’ll let you read it direct from one of the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey in spencer, MA: http://www.lectio-divina.org/
*** Interested in making a retreat on Lectio Divina? Check out Marie Joseph Spiritual Center — www.mariejosephspiritual.org — and check their calendar which will be available online in September 2010. I believe that Sr. Aline Plante, p.m. who lives there, is excellent in presenting Lectio Divina in the format of a day-retreat or a three-day retreat weekend. The prayer exercises she guides retreatants through are very spiritual and insightful. She also offers a powerful retreat on forgiveness. Either retreat is well worth the price of the retreat…about $170.00 for the weekend version…retreat, room and fabulous meals – all with the ocean at their door.