If, by chance, one hears or reads about Lectio Divina (LD), one might be tempted to think that practising it would be relatively easy after a brief reading of a text, or after attending a few hours’ teaching on it. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth as the following guidelines, or steps, will show.
First and foremost, LD is a Grace from God.. He calls us – it is not we who decide – to practise LD. It is not a human initiative but comes from God. And the Grace of implementing the practice of LD is like the water that irrigates in “terrace cultivation”. The water comes from a Divine Source that has been released from on high and is coursing down the terraces, supposedly going from one to the next and the next and so on. But if we look carefully the water doesn’t necessarily run down automatically, watering all the Terraces of our being. Some areas might receive the water, others not.
The garden of our being has different levels, from the highest to the lowest: spirit, theoretical mind, understanding mind, practical mind, the devout higher will, the strong will, the practical humble rooted-in-the-earth will. The cascade of water does not always succeed in going from one level to the following one. It can remain trapped at a certain level, accumulate and never descend.
The 7 Steps to Implement LD
1- You hear about it, you learn about it. You learn the “theory” of LD: You attend the two lessons of the Course dedicated to LD. You might attend a third lesson on “Reading the Bible in the Spirit”.
2- You do a practical lesson together: by attending a “guided lectio divina” in order to see how it works in reality.
3- You read about it in a book. You might even add to that and attend a workshop on LD.
4- You start practising it. You should start where you are, that is, as a beginner: which means that you use a dose of the Scriptures adapted to your capacity. Like a traveller, start by taking a minor road (reading one paragraph a day from a Gospel, from a letter of St Paul, some extracts from the Old Testament), then progress onto the avenues (maybe today’s Gospel), then finally onto the Motorway: LD as explained in the course i.e. with the two readings of the Mass. If you don’t have time during your day, you ask the Lord to help you find it (He will rearrange your life, when and how His Wisdom finds it appropriate).
5- You meet a tutor in order to check your own practice of LD: you state humbly that you are having difficulties practising it (which is very normal) or even that you simply can’t do it as it was explained: it is not working. “- LD seems not to work.” “- LD is impossible.” In fact LD is the most difficult task on earth.
In order to reach that humility of acknowledging that we are failing, requires examining our conscience, identifying what is not working. Checking, then, with an experienced tutor, is an act of humility and allows the Lord to guide us and adjust our practice, to see what is lacking.
It is important to realise that acknowledging the theory is one thing, but implementing it often comes with one or two pieces of the puzzle missing. Usually we can’t see them by ourselves. We need the help of others. God likes this humble behaviour of our believing that He loves to act through the Church and in it.
6- From time to time (every few months) you should check again with the tutor to see if you are really continuing on the right track.
7- Since LD has become the first essential ingredient of your Spiritual Life, since LD has become such a powerful experience that brings guidance, light, transformation and joy to your life, you should spread it around you. It is a sin to keep good things to yourself. It is like stealing the Grace of God, appropriating it to ourselves, as if it is something due to us. In such an event – God forbid – we are eroding Jesus’ Call for us.
It is true that the first step to spread the practice of LD comes by being an authentic witness to it: by practising it ourselves. Then, we need to spread it around us with all the means at our disposal.
Coming back to N°5
Mentioning all the elements that compose LD is done during the Lessons. The books contain all that is needed to know about it. It is all there. But grasping the odd aspect, requires the seven steps of implementation, especially the fifth: meeting with a tutor, recognising that we are failing, or that we have serious doubts about succeeding in doing it properly, revealing how we do it, will allow the Grace of God to use this conversation in order to underline what is lacking. Only the experienced tutor will spot what is lacking and put the person – by the Grace of God – on the right track. This is how God acts, he likes to go through a brother or a sister, whose mission is to help in that matter.
The missing ingredient will be revealed when the student meets the tutor. It is necessary to realise that the first four steps inclusive are still not enough in the majority of the cases.
Things can be very clearly mentioned in the Course and in the book. But a “one to one” “personal” awakening, can only happen with the Grace of humbling ourselves to seek the Lord through the “flesh” of the tutor.
Have you done your LD? When you wake up in the morning, first things first. Let us behave like real sons of God: take time to listen to His Voice, take time to meet God who longs to speak to us.