Jean Khoury

Handout

I- Introduction

II- The Practice of Lectio Divina Today

III- Lectio Divina and Theology

IV- Conclusion


I- Introduction: Understanding Our Times

– We live in a unique moment in history, a privileged moment.

– Access to the Bible.

– New experience of LD. Blossomed from Vat. II, though not mentioned by it. The new Lectionary (1969).

Dei Verbum and Verbum Domini.

– LD was not present in any of the great Spiritual Theology Manuals before 1950.

– LD was not present in the daily schedule or taught in the Seminaries before 1990.

– Never mentioned before as it has been recently by a Pope: Pope Benedict XVI.

– For many reasons, LD cannot be optional anymore.

II- The Practice of Lectio Divina Today

Today it is rather prevalent and present in different ways and forms. Are they the same?

a) What is Lectio Divina (see the page on Lectio Divina)?

– A Biblical definition: “A time given to Listen to the Word of God and put it into practice”.

– There are other definitions.

– It is the most powerful way of prayer: it boosts Spiritual Life.

– If properly carried out, it is the most difficult and challenging way of prayer: it requires a daily renewed gift of ourselves, a powerful act of faith in the Living Word, a renewed act of purity of heart.

b) Lessons Learned From This Renewal

1) LD needs to be taught. It cannot be left to general information or loose practice.

    It needs a check-up from time to time, i.e. a one-on-one session to see if it is working properly.

2) It is important to understand the source of the actual practice, at least in the first phase of its renewal:

– the Liturgy of the Word

– the Sacramentality of the Proclamation of the Word (“He [Christ] is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church.” (Vatican II, SC7))

i.e. when doing LD on the daily readings

3) Lectio Divina follows a movement of the incarnation of a word given to us every day by Jesus.

Card. Martini saw the problem with the 4 steps of Guigo the Cartusian’s summary. He added among other steps, “Actio”.

4) LD has to be supernatural: i.e. the direct and personal intervention of the Holy Spirit should occur.

For post Second Conversion it should definitely be supernatural.

Experience shows two very common pitfalls:

            a) It can become a mere meditation / reflection on … (going from one idea to the other…)

            b) It can be aborted (see article) after the general light has been received:

                        – Either we stop after the general light and go into total passiveness / silence

                        – Or we take the general light and apply it to something that we think needs

improvement in our life.

5) LD has its own type of Contemplation, not to be confused with the Prayer of the Heart (i.e. Contemplative/Silent Prayer). (See the article: “Two Types of Contemplation”)

III- Lectio Divina and Theology

a) Lectio Divina offers a new understanding of the word received every day from Jesus.

– This is Theology. The ancient and higher definition of Theology.

– St. John was the only one named “The Theologian” (worth studying Christian Prophetism according to the Gospel of St. John).

b) LD should be a full module in Theology, an integral part of it and not just a private spiritual exercise.

Jesus offers the object of Faith in Matthew 5, 6, 7 and then Lectio Divina, Matthew 13, teaches us about the reception of the Teaching. Fides quae and fides qua. Both. (See the Integral Theology project)

c) New topics should be developed:

– Theology of Listening.

– Contemplation (the LD type).

– Theology of the Liturgy of the Word, the sacramentality of Proclamation.

– Its connection with the different spiritual meanings of the Scriptures. In fact, it follows the different stages of Spiritual Growth.

– Homiletics and LD.

d) It is part of the Method of Theologising: otherwise, we look but do not see.

A new journey between the text and our spiritual life, our inner life here follows:

            1- Reading the text, trying to understand it.

            2- Receiving a new light/word. General Light.

            3- Understanding in a “practical” way this Word. Precise Light.

            4- Putting into practice.

            5- Writing about it, developing it.

            6- Making the effort to say it, to transmit it, to others.

IV- Conclusion: A New Journey

1- Take each of the above points, study them carefully and put them into practice.

2- You become a bridge, a pathway that connects people to Jesus. People know when you preach from direct contact with the Living Word, or by the power of your intellect only.

3- Your studies (especially Theology) become enjoyable, a real joy. Every day you find the connection between what you are studying and your personal spiritual life.

Note: For further reading see “Lectio Divina at the School of Mary”, by Jean Khoury, the entire section: “Lectio Divina and the Life of Intellect”, pp. 148-165, and more specifically: “Lectio and Theological Studies” p. 157.

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“If it [Lectio Divina] is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church – I am convinced of it – a new spiritual springtime” (Pope Benedict XVI). We can gloss over Pope Benedict’s words and say: “If Lectio Divina is effectively practised by Theologians, this practice will bring to Theology – I am convinced – a new springtime.