Lectio Divina

By Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo+, OFE
 
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” (Saint Jerome, 340-420)
 
The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum Secundum 1962 – 1965) urged all Catholics to return to Scripture as a way of “supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8)
 
“It is especially necessary that listening to the word of God should become a life-giving encounter, in the ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the biblical text the living Word which questions, directs and shapes our lives.” (Pope John Paul II Novo Millennio Ineunte, 39)
 
This brief article is a summary of the ancient practice of lectio divina. Lectio divina is Latin for Divine Reading. This style of prayer dates back to the early monastic tradition. Trappist monk Father Thomas Merton (1915 -1968) wrote, “It is understood that the personal prayer of the monk is embedded in a life of psalmody, liturgical celebration and the meditative reading of Scripture (lectio divina).”
 
How great it is to come into the depths of God’s Word. We are able to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:9) and his words are “more desirable than gold, than a hoard of purest gold, sweeter also than honey or drippings from the comb.” (Psalm 19:11) Love, peace, and happiness are ours when we learn to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.(Colossians 3:16)
 
“Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading, spiritual reading, or “holy reading,” and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to engender communion with the Triune God and to increase in the knowledge of God’s Word. It is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to study, ponder, listen and, finally, pray from God’s Word.” We are urged to listen with our hearts because it was the Word of God that we are hearing.
 
Trappist monk Father Thomas Keating (1923), founder of the centering prayer movement explain what lectio divina is not. “It is not traditional Bible study, not reading the Scriptures for understanding and edification, and not praying the Scriptures (though praying the Scriptures can be a form of lectio divina when a word or phrase is taken from the Scriptures to focus on for the purpose of going into “God’s presence.””) Father Keating exclaims that lectio divina is a beginning into the more intense practices of centering prayer and contemplative prayer. Read more…