The Catholic Church has always encouraged us to be rooted in the Word of God as a step to learn, to know and to serve the Lord. We Catholics, tend to not to put in as much effort in reading the Sacred Scripture as compared to the Protestants, who are more diligent when it comes to reading the Word of God and embracing it into their lives.
Therefore, this weekend I would like to assist you in practising the “Lectio Divina” method. Lectio Divina is known as ‘sacred reading’ in Latin. As we practice reading the Sacred Scripture, we allow our hearts to cultivate hearing the voice of God in the silence of our hearts. By reading Holy Scripture, we enlighten our hearts and increase our knowledge of God.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI introduced an ancient method of utilising the Lectio Divina while reading the Sacred Scripture. It is one way to bring profound understanding to many Catholics about Scripture and to go into a deeper prayer life. Here are the ways of engaging into this method:
a. Lectio (Read): First and foremost, we need to select a passage from the Bible. We can always use the daily reading given in the Roman Missal in the Catholic Church. Before reading the texts, invite the Holy Spirit to assist us in our reading and prayer by saying: “Speak, O Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Sam 3:9).
b. Meditation or Reflection: Recall the passage you have just read and take a word or phrase to yourself and see what God is trying to communicate to you through the particular passage. God wants to speak to your heart. The Holy Spirit hears and will slowly respond to you. If possible, read and reread the Scripture text slowly and gently so that you may be able to grasp the details of the passage and become familiar.
c. Oratio (Speak to God) and Contemplatio (Receive): It is the heart of the Lectio Divinia. Close your eyes and allow yourself to become silent. Slowly place yourself in the scene by using your imagination as to how Jesus looks like. What are the people saying to one another and their emotions? We need to use our intellect, imagination and senses to make the scene real and alive. When a thought or imagination sparks an idea that descends into your heart, then you can talk to the Lord in an intimate way and rest in His presence.
I still remember reading and contemplating on the infancy narrative of Jesus. In my imagination, I was 12 years old and Jesus was a boy of the same age as me. We were playing football together, went swimming in the river, camping, climbing, fishing, hunting… I was one with Boy Jesus and it was an assurance of Jesus’ presence in my imagination.
This conversations with the Lord can be for a few minutes. Authentic prayer must be brought into reality in one’s life.
d. Transformation or Application: The ultimate motive of Lectio Divina and all other form of prayer is to be transformed into the very essence of Jesus, to follow His footsteps. A St Paul says, “It is no longer I live, but Christ who lives in me,” (Gal 2:20).
I invite you to start using this Lectio Divina method by choosing our text, reading it in a more meditative way, speak to God, contemplate, converting the Word of God into prayer and live your life faithfully and reverently. This method teaches us to cultivate the ability to listen and to read the Sacred Scripture, and to apply this to our lives.
By Rev. Fr. George P.