What is Lectio Divina?

Lectio Divina is: With the help of the Holy Spirit, to listen to the daily Word Jesus wants to give me and to put it into practice.

“the daily Word”: is an allusion to the fact that in the Mass Jesus comes to speak to us personally, through the daily readings (please find them here, under “readings”)

So it is all about:

1- listening to the Word that Jesus wants to give us,

and

2- putting it into practice.

You’ll certainly notice that practising Lectio divina is one of the best ways to love God:

– “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

– “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me” (John 14:21)

– “If a man loves me, he will keep my word” (John 14:23)

– “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (John 15:10)

To love Jesus-God is the First Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” (Mt 22:37-38). We just saw that “to love” means to put into practise the word. This then means that if the first commandment is to love God-Jesus “with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind”, this means that we should seek to listen to Jesus’ Word and put it into practise “with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind”.

This gives us an idea of the type of commitment (and a priority) we need to have for Lectio Divina.

Now, let us look at the steps to Lectio Divina in greater detail.

LECTIO DIVINA STEPS

 

I- Preparing

1- Sit in a quiet place

2- In the presence of Christ, enter into my conscience

3- Consider His desire to speak to me

4- I choose Him again as my First priority

5- I give myself to Him, unconditionally

II- Listening

1- The « First Reading »

a- We read the « First Reading » in order to understand the letter of the text.

b- If we find some difficulty in the text, a passage or a word that we don’t understand, we try to find clarity by doing a little research : we read the footnotes, we see parallel occurrences in the Bible of the same concept or word. This can easily take 10 to 15 minutes.

c- We re-read in order to discover Christ’s will. We open ourselves up to His presence, to the action of the Holy Spirit and we adopt a prayerful attitude while reading, attentive to the Lord, saying for instance : « what do you want me to do O Lord today ? »

d- He might want to talk to us through the difficult passage we found. Why not?

e- We re-read 4 to 5 times the entire text, while praying. Slowly. The attention is fully on the Risen Lord who is present with us and wants to talk to us.

f- We might find that He will use a passage, a verse, an expression or a word to convey to us His message, His light.

We might, as well, not find anything as yet, especially if the First Reading is from the Old Testament.

2- The « Gospel »

After having hit the wall of the apparent silence of Jesus, which often happens, we move on to the Gospel.

a- We read the Gospel : first and foremost to understand the literal meaning of the text.

b- If we find a difficulty in the text, a passage or a word that we don’t understand, we try to find clarity by doing a little research : we read the footnotes, we see parallel occurrences in the Bible of the same concept or word. This can easily take 10 to 15 minutes.

c- We re-read in order to discover Christ’s will. We open ourselves up to His presence, to the action of the Holy Spirit and we adopt a prayerful attitude while reading, attentive to the Lord, saying for instance : « what do you want me to do O Lord today? »

d- He might want to talk to us through the difficult passage we found. Why not?

e- We re-read 4 to 5 times the entire text, while praying. Slowly. The attention is fully on the Risen Lord who is present with us and wants to talk to us.

f- We find : one, two or even three different passages where we feel Christ is talking to us. If it is two to three passages, we will not yet know which one of them is the one Jesus will use today to talk to us. Therefore we won’t yet know which message it will be.

3- Back to the « First Reading »

Now we go back to the First Reading with Jesus’ new Light and Presence.

a- We read again the First Reading, bearing in mind Jesus’ Light freshly given to us.

b- An area in the First Reading text starts to be illumined by Jesus, starts to talk to us, saying to us (despite the differences between the two texts) the same thing concerning one of the lights we perceived in the Gospel. The First Reading sifts and discards from amongst the various choices (1, 2 or even 3), removing thus any possible hesitation, confirming the light through comparison with the second text (which is miraculous in itself), giving us a stronger, more affirmed message, through the two different texts.

c- We write down only the two chosen passages from the two readings (First Reading and Gospel) He is using to talk to us.

4- One Light ; a clear light

a- We now go back and forth between the two passages only which He is using to talk to us. We read them while praying, wanting to know His Will, to understand it.

b- We notice and understand the one message here and there in the two texts.

c- We notice that it is a general message (example : mercy).

d- We continue to dwell in the actual passages asking the Lord to be more specific in His Message to us, showing us clearly His Will, showing us the act He wants us to perform (example : forgive this person). We are praying, begging for the Light of God to land on our will, exposing all our being to it.

e- The message is made clear and concrete by the Lord.

f- We write down briefly what we have understood from the 2 passages.

III- Realisation

1- We ask the Holy Spirit’s help in order to put into practice the Word we have received.

2- We give thanks, being immersed in Him.

3- By His Grace, we put into practice the Word we have received.

4- We find echoes of the message received during the day.

5- At the end of the day: before going to sleep, we give thanks to the Lord that He has talked to us and that by His Grace we were able to understand Him and put His Word into practice.

Suggested reading list for Lectio divina:

– Daily reading of the Bible (please click here and on the page click “Readings” to find them).

– The Gospel. Luke 24. Isaiah 53.

– Catechism of the Catholic Church. nn° 50-141.

– “Dei Verbum”, Council Vatican II

– “Scripture in the tradition”, Henri de Lubac

– “History and the Spirit”, Henri de Lubac

– “The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount”, Saint Augustine.

– “Saint Augustine’s Homilies on the First letter of John”

– “Lectio Divina”, Jean Khoury CTS London (on Kindle as well)

– “Lectio Divina, Mary and the Spirit”, Jean Khoury (on Kindle)

– “Lectio Divina and daily life”, Jean Khoury (on Kindle)

– A short video presentation on Lectio Divina

– Join me on Lectio Twitter@LectioDivinaUk

 

“a new spiritual springtime” (Pope Benedict)

“The Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, whose drafting I personally witnessed as a young theologian, taking part in the lively discussions that went with it, begins with a deeply meaningful sentence: “Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidenter proclamans, Sacrosancta Synodus…” [“Hearing the Word of God with reverence, and proclaiming it with faith, the Sacred Synod…”] (n. 1). With these words the Council points out a descriptive aspect of the Church: she is a community that listens to and proclaims the Word of God. The Church does not live on herself but on the Gospel, and in the Gospel always and ever anew finds the directions for her journey. This is a point that every Christian must understand and apply to himself or herself: only those who first listen to the Word can become preachers of it.

Indeed, they must not teach their own wisdom but the wisdom of God, which often appears to be foolishness in the eyes of the world (cf. I Cor 1: 23). The Church knows well that Christ lives in the Sacred Scriptures. For this very reason – as the Constitution stresses – she has always venerated the divine Scriptures in the same way as she venerates the Body of the Lord (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 21). In view of this, St Jerome, cited by the conciliar Document, said that ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 25).

The Church and the Word of God are inseparably linked. The Church lives on the Word of God and the Word of God echoes through the Church, in her teaching and throughout her life (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 8). The Apostle Peter, therefore, reminds us that no prophecy contained in Scripture can be subjected to a personal interpretation. “Prophecy has never been put forward by man’s willing it. It is rather that men impelled by the Holy Spirit have spoken under God’s influence” (II Pt 1: 20).

We are grateful to God that in recent times, and thanks to the impact made by the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, the fundamental importance of the Word of God has been deeply re-evaluated. From this has derived a renewal of the Church’s life, especially in her preaching, catechesis, theology and spirituality, and even in the ecumenical process. The Church must be constantly renewed and rejuvenated and the Word of God, which never ages and is never depleted, is a privileged means to achieve this goal. Indeed, it is the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, which always guides us to the whole truth (cf. Jn 16: 13).

In this context, I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church – I am convinced of it – a new spiritual springtimeAs a strong point of biblical ministry, Lectio divina should therefore be increasingly encouraged, also through the use of new methods, carefully thought through and in step with the times. It should never be forgotten that the Word of God is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (cf. Ps 119[118]: 105).

In invoking God’s Blessing upon your work, your projects and the Congress in which you are taking part, I join in the hope that enlivens you: May the Word of the Lord make progress (cf. II Thes 3: 1) to the very ends of the earth, so that through the proclamation of salvation the whole world through hearing it may believe, through belief it may hope, and through hope it may come to love (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 1). I thank you with all my heart!” (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the participants in the international congress organized to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the dogmatic constitution on Divine Revelation “DEI VERBUM”, 16 September 2005.)