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Lectio Divina is a way of studying and praying the Scriptures so that the Word of God may penetrate the heart and lead to acquiring God’s perspective and love for the world. Through Lectio Divina, a person gradually lets go of their own agenda and becomes open to what God is communicating to them. Developed in the 12th century by Guigo, a Carthusian monk, Lectio Divina, a Latin term meaning “divine reading”, consists of four steps.  


The first stage is lectio (reading). One reads a passage in the Word of God in an unhurried manner several times to become familiar with it. Any text of Scripture may be used, but it should not be too long. (Bible reading plans with a daily set of passages for a year, while worthwhile in themselves, work against this approach.)  


In the second stage, meditatio (reflection), one ponders the text and thinks about how to apply it to one’s life.  


The third stage, oratio (response), involves responding to the Holy Spirit, inspired by one’s reflection on God’s Word. Here one speaks to God from the heart – acknowledging woundedness, asking for forgiveness, giving thanks, praising God, rejoicing, and so on.  


During the final stage, contemplatio (rest), one rests in silence and solitude. It means listening to God by opening one’s heart and soul, and letting go of one’s own ideas, plans, and meditations. 


On a CD entitled The Word of All Life (2003), Margaret Rizza gives a brief and simplified overview of this beautiful way of praying over Scripture. Here is her brief summary of Lectio Divina


§    Select a short passage from Scripture. Read the passage slowly several times, allowing the words to flow from head to heart. [lectio – reading] 


§    As you begin to be familiar with the passage, notice which words, phrases, ideas strike you – that you have been drawn to. As the passage is reduced to just a few words or phrases, repeat them, letting them flood your whole being – chew on them as a cow chews its cud. [meditatio   – reflection] 


§   Pray with the words, phrases which have been given to you and, as you go about your daily work, let them mingle with life’s experiences. [oratio   – response; contemplatiorest]


The practice of Lectio Divina has changed my own life. The Word has become more alive and active – and I am better able to relate it to my everyday life. For most of my life’s journey, I had been drawn mainly to the intellectual side of the Christian life – now by being aware of the contemplative side, I am receiving the Word more by the ear of the heart.


Nevertheless, there is also a place for correct exegesis – in other words, understanding such elements as the (1) original wording, (2) historical setting, (3) language of the text, (4) composition and style, (5) genre and life setting, and the (6) theology. In reality, both are needed – the head and the heart.


If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32, NIV). 



Photo credit: Intellimon Ltd.





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