Friday, August 28, 2009

LECTURE ON LECTIO DIVINA ...Second Part -Selection of Scriptures

Selection of Scriptures

Lectio is typically practiced daily for one continuous hour. A selection from the Holy Scriptures is chosen ahead of time, often as a daily progression through a particular book of the Bible.
Selecting a time for lectio divina is important. Typical methods are to pray for one hour in the morning, or to divide it into two half–hour periods, one in the morning and one in the evening. The key is to pre–select the time that will be devoted to the prayer and to keep it. Using the same time every day leads to a daily habit of prayer that becomes highly effective.
The place for prayer is to be free from distractions, isolated from other people, telephones, visual distractions, etc. Familiarity with a location reduces the possibility of distraction away from the prayer. One may wish to pray in an unaccustomed place, for the express purpose of finding a place that will be dedicated to prayer alone and not other daily activities. Some practitioners conduct other devotions, such as praying before the Blessed Sacrament, as a preparation for Lectio Divina.


Prior to reading, it is important to engage in a transitional activity that takes one from the normal state of mind to a more contemplative and prayerful state. A few moments of deep, regular breathing and a short prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to guide the prayer time helps to set the tone and improve the effectiveness of the lectio.
In order to hear someone speaking softly we must learn to love silence. If we are constantly surround ourselves with noise, we cannot hear gentle sounds.
Once the stage is set it is time to begin the prayer. There are four phases of the prayer, which do not necessarily progress in an ordered fashion. One may move between different phases of the prayer very freely as the Holy Spirit guides.
to be continued....

Monday, August 24, 2009



Latin for divine reading, spiritual reading, or ‘holy reading’
Represents a traditional Christian practice of prayer and scriptural reading
A manner of praying with Scripture that calls one to:

o Study
o Ponder
o Listen
o Pray and even sing and rejoice

From God's Word, within the soul.

We gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us

Objective of Lectio Divina

-to give rise to a communion with the Triune God
-to deepen the knowledge of God’s Word
-to let the Word of God penetrate us that we may grow in an intimate relationship with the Lord

History and Overview

The monastic rules of Sts. Pachomius, Augustine, Basil and Benedict made the practice of divine reading, together with manual labor and participation in liturgical life, the triple base of monastic life.
The systematization of spiritual reading into four steps dates back to the 12th century. Around 1150, Guigo, a Carthusian monk, wrote a book titled ‘The Monk’s Ladder’ (Scala Claustralium) wherein he set out the theory of the four rungs: reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation.
Guigo described the stages which he saw as essential to the practice of Lectio Divina. There are various ways of practicing Lectio Divina either individually or in groups but Guigo's description remains fundamental. He said that the first stage is lectio (reading), followed by meditation (reflection), then oratio (response) and lastly contemplation (rest)

In the early monastic tradition contemplation was understood in two ways. First was theoria physike, the contemplation of God in creation – God in ‘the many.’ Second was theologia, the contemplation of God in Himself without images or words – God as ‘The One.’ From this perspective lectio divina serves as a training-ground for the contemplation of God in His creation.

In contemplation, we cease from interior spiritual doing and learn simply to be, that is to rest in the presence of our loving Father. Just as we constantly move back and forth in our exterior lives between speaking and listening, between questioning and reflecting, so in our spiritual lives we must learn to enjoy the refreshment of simply being in God's presence, an experience that naturally alternates (if we let it!) with our spiritual practice.

In ancient times, contemplation was not regarded as a goal to be achieved through some method of prayer, but was simply accepted with gratitude as God's recurring gift. At intervals the Lord invites us to cease from speaking so that we can simply rest in his embrace. This is the pole of our inner spiritual rhythm called contemplation.

In lectio divina we offer ourselves to God; and we are people in motion. In ancient times this inner spiritual motion was described as a helix - an ascending spiral. Viewed in only two dimensions it appears as a circular motion back and forth; seen with the added dimension of time it becomes a helix, an ascending spiral by means of which we are drawn ever closer to God. The whole of our spiritual lives were viewed in this way, as a gentle oscillation between spiritual activity and receptivity by means of which God unites us ever closer to Himself. In just the same way the steps or stages of lectio divina represent an oscillation back and forth between these spiritual poles. In lectio divina we recognize our underlying spiritual rhythm and discover many different ways of experiencing God's presence - many different ways of praying. to be continued...

Thursday, August 13, 2009


What Prayer is NOT:

· Not just an activity or obligation
· Not just a mixture of words

What Prayer is:

· Our relationship with God
· An encounter of the Lover and the Beloved.

Intimate Relationship with God:

· Is NOT instant
· Does NOT always go with comfort (‘feel good’)
· Will require a SACRIFICE of both parties at some point
· Needs:

o Time
o Energy
o Very self

Reflections on Prayer:

The more one prays, the more one wants to pray.

· ‘We are like an arrow shot toward a universal God’. (St. Augustine)
· God is the center of gravity that irresistibly attracts us. The closer we get, the more speed we gain.

o The more we love God, the more want to love Him.
o The more we relate to God, the more we want to want to relate to Him.
o Without realizing it, beneath all our dissatisfactions, there is a current toward the Only One capable of concentrating our strengths and calming our aspirations.

The less one prays, the less one wants to pray.

· Begins when we abandon prayer for a variety of valid (sometimes) reasons.
· We then become interiorly distracted, finding a variety of excuses.
· The desire for God diminishes and is replaced by things, people, event, works.

The more one prays, the more God is ‘God is within us’.

· God becomes less of an idea and more of a person.
· God becomes freedom, humility, love, and joy.
· God becomes an irresistible and revolutionary force that draws all things to Himself.
· God completely changes the ‘face’ of the person.

The less one prays, the less God is ‘God is within us’.

· God becomes meaningless and lifeless.
· God becomes an abstract idea.
· God becomes a word that almost says nothing to us.

When one stops praying, God ends up being a nobody’.

· God becomes an insignificant part of our lives.
· God dies; people become atheists.

· People never talk of eternal life or the soul or God.
· People talk of suffering and social injustice.

Notes on Personal Prayer:

Some signs that we lack intimacy with God:

· We seek him only in times of need (A ‘give me, God!’)
· We do much of the talking and less of the listening (God, listen to me.)
· We see prayer as a mere obligation that need to be fulfilled (God, I have to do this!)

Fruits of the Third Mansion (Carmelite Spirituality):

· The Third Mansion is a prayer state wherein the individual has grown a devotion to God, and may be eager to advance more in prayer. However, there is a tendency for people to create a world according to their own devices, playing with God and responding to Him only when it suits them. They invent a thousand and one excuses to rationalize their behavior and they may even convince themselves that their will is God’s will and whatever is not according to their desires is not the will of God. (Source: The Gospel of Contemplation, Sr. Mary Niere, OCD)

Suggestions for personal prayer:

Be properly disposed in prayer. What is said to God and how it is said to Him is important. However a greater concern is the interior disposition of our hearts – hearts that are humble, transparent, sincere, patient, generous, trusting, loving and childlike.

How do we dispose ourselves to prayer?

· Find quality time to pray (i.e., your prayer time)

· We need to realize that giving time to prayer is giving our time to God. Giving our time to God himself is giving presence to him. Giving our presence to God is giving ourselves to him.

· Choose the time convenient for you to be alone with God, when there is less distraction, less noise, less tasks to think of. Many usually choose the evening to be with God.

· Nothing pleases God more when we give our precious quality time, very presence and very self to Him.

· Find a good place for prayer

· A place for prayer can be just about anywhere that you can stay undisturbed. It could be a Church, or an Adoration Chapel. Perhaps it is a quiet place in a park or even a fire escape. It could be a bedroom.

· The prayer place is not chosen so people can see you pray, nor is it a place just to relax. It is a place to be yourself and to lose yourself, to lose track of time, a place to wrestle with the Creator, ‘to feel one's body made a temple of the Holy Spirit’. What matters most is not the place itself; what matters is that it helps you let God BE God and let you pay full attention to the most important of all relationships.

· Persevere in your prayer time

· One of the best things we can give God is our faithfulness in preserving in our prayer times and not to omit or cut them short. If we decide to pray for twenty minutes, we commit ourselves to pray for twenty minutes.

· Faithfulness teaches us how to be humble, knowing that we are not always in control when we pray. When we do not cut short our prayer time due to restlessness, dryness or desolation, then we allow God to school us in other virtues like humility, patience, generosity, trust and love. We learn to live those virtues, because in prayer, that is what we become.

· Learn to befriend silence

· The voice of God is often heard only in a whisper, in a breath of silence. Remaining in silence in God’s presence, open to the Holy Spirit, is already prayer.

· The road to a deeper relationship with God is not one of achieving inner silence at all costs by following some technique that creates a kind of emptiness within. If, instead, with a childlike trust we let Christ pray silently within us, then one day we shall discover that the depths of our being are inhabited by a Presence.

· Beg for specific grace to understand God. Begging in prayer humbles and disposes us all the more to meet God in a more intimate way.

· Pray with the heart and than with the head by choosing the most important matters that are we need to bring to God for the moment. We should never take in too much matter for prayer. Bring to God the experiences that really matter to us and those that really affect us most deeply – our joys, hopes and desires, our hurts, pains and fears. In that, we learn to pray more with our hearts and less with our minds and we allow God to let Him be Himself to us.

· Learn to savor His presence

· If a mere word or a line or a passage or a reflection question or a spiritual exercise touches us deeply, then we must simply stay there, where we focus, dwell and relish and not move on. If something is touching us in prayer, by way of our consolations, then trust that this is exactly where God desires to meet us. Repeating our prayer and staying where we gained fruit is a form of savoring His presence.

· We must not, however seed for consolation (i.e., that good feeling in prayer), but rather seek God Himself and Him alone – the God of consolation and the source of all consoling experiences.

· Keep a journal

o Writing oftentimes can help us pray better and clarify many things to us. Take time to write down on a journal the fruits of your prayer. This can be done during and especially after the formal prayer period.

Final word:

The ultimate success indicator of one’s prayer life is CHARITY. The way we pray should affect and promote the way we love. The way we encounter God in our silent desert should influence and enhance genuinely the way we serve and love our neighbor in the busy market place. And also, the way we love should animate our prayer and help us become better praying people.

Exercise: Practice Silence

(Note: This exercise is meant to aid a person to experience silence so as to be disposed to prayer.)

1. Sit in a chair with your back straight, feet flat on the floor and your hands on your lap. Make sure that you relaxed (i.e., no tense muscles).

2. Close your eyes gently so that you will not be distracted of what you see.

3. Make an act of faith, hope and love in God’s presence (e.g., ‘Heavenly Father, I believe that You are present and I love You. I trust and hope that You will let me experience Your love personally. May I obtain the Grace of Your Love.)

4. Listen to the sounds around you. Just listen without connecting or associating any idea with the sound.

5. Imagine you are looking in front of an empty white board or blank white screen.

6. Together with the rhythm of your breathing, as you breathe in and as you breathe out, pray in the silence the Name of Jesus, gradually lengthening it (i.e., 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc.)
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