WHAT IS LECTIO DIVINA?
Lectio (Latin)-lesson, teaching, or a group of texts. Reading in it’s most basic form.
Divina (Latin)- divine, of a deity, divinely inspired, or prophetic.
Lectio Divina– divine readings, or spiritual readings, to put it plainly. This is how people used the term for the majority of the middle ages which would suggest that lectio divina is synonymous with sacra pagina, “from the sacred page.”
Of course, the Desert Fathers who created the practice of Lectio Divina used it as a form of contemplative meditation on the scriptures. In typical Alexandrian fashion these early monks internalized scripture until their actions became a walking interpretation of the Word of God. Origen had always urged the Church of Alexandria to study and pray God’s Word. Speak to God through scripture and when scripture is read one should be listening (lectio). St. Benedict would say we are meant to “listen with the ear of our heart.” To pay careful attention to our internal dialogues as we move towards union with God through our hearts is another of those signs of just how blended Alexandria was.
“The aim of every monk and the perfection of his heart tends to continual and unbroken perseverance in prayer, and, as far as it is allowed to human frailty, strives to acquire an immovable tranquility of mind and a perpetual purity, for the sake of which we seek unweariedly and constantly to practice all bodily labors as well as contrition of spirit.”-St. John Cassian (Conference 9)
Lectio Divina was developed as a means to stay in constant prayer. To contemplate on God day in and day out is write to the Words of God on their hearts. It’s a beautifully simple concept.
THE SIMPLE FORMULA FOR PRACTICE
- 1. Lectio (reading),
- 2. Meditatio (meditation),
- 3. Oratio (prayer),
- 4. Contemplatio (contemplation).
1. READING is the first condition of lectio divina. We go with the most basic answer we can and seek to understand what the passage says in as plain a language as we can, We find the literal meaning of the text define and the lessons everyone should see. Just ask a question:
What does the text say that everyone should understand?
How does keeping my mind free and clear lead to being filled with light?
2. MEDITATION is the next direction lectio divina explores. We ask, what does this text say to me, today, and to my life? We allow God to show us any memories of people, places, or events in our lives that relate to the passage. We write the scripture on our hearts until our hearts ask questions. Like-
How does it feel to bask in the sunlight on a cool autumn day?
Can you recall the feeling of light against your face?
Sift through your memories and recall a time when you were just absolutely furious and filled with all the disappointment and heartbreak you could take. Can you remember how you physically felt? Like, headaches or stomach pains. Tension in your cheek from clenching your jaw too tight. Anything?
– We come to a deeper appreciation of how God is working in our lives through the sacred word. By personalizing the Wisdom and putting return to the present and consider the areas in our own lives that God is calling us to contemplate.
If the darkness does trigger emotional trauma all you have to do is feel it without running from it and offer it up to God. You can rebuke the darkness and ask to be filled with Divine Light instead. With every step we come to a deeper appreciation of how God works in our lives through the sacred word. By personalizing the Wisdom and returning to the present we can consider the areas in our own lives that God is calling us to contemplate.
3.PRAYER in lectio divina should become the response that thoroughly meditating on Scripture produces. When we allow the Words to internalize making engravings on our hearts we can speak to Godhead from our highest level of intellect. We may ask ourselves:
What do I want to say to God in response of His word? What has the scripture revealed to you?
Speak to God from your heart and allow the scripture to move through you.
4. CONTEMPLATION is the natural succession of lectio divina. We come to grips with the areas of our lives that desperately need transformed. We consider grace and humble ourselves before the Glory of the Absolute Power of transformation that remains the only real ruling principle in our domain. We must approach the Godhead in trust with a genuine willingness to change. Never forget, we all eventually surrender our personas and submit our wills to the will of the Divine or we continue to have ears and not hear. We have to decide to surrender parts of our character to God to be free from them. The final question should come to mind a bit after that:
What transformation does my heart and mind need to make?
What changes in lifestyle is the Lord asking of me?
This is the basic formula for lectio divina. It’s a sort of mystic introspection that puts the Wisdom texts deep within our being. Study that touches the depth of our souls leads us to understand passages beyond the level of intellect. As our hearts begin engaging with the Logos and seeking Sophia we begin to intimately know the mysteries.
Lectio divina exhausts our understanding by allowing us the space to find the obvious answers and then immerse ourselves into the context. As the scripture sinks in we simply ask God for Wisdom before finally, letting go of all our thoughts and feelings. Somewhere in the silence our answers reveal themselves beyond anything our minds could come to alone.
This is where that commitment to God comes in. By setting aside a part of your morning and evening to just work through the verses piece by piece you are honoring that commitment. If something in particular stands out in one of these sayings then lead with that. Once you start actively sensing beyond the world and dive deeper into who you are in Christ your natures begins to transform. You slowly internalize Wisdom as you empty yourself out before God. The more you let go the more you become filled with His presence.
4 thoughts on “Lectio Divina: A Living Words Meditation”
Thank you for your posts!🤍 I hope you keep posting! I am trying to read everything. So many good topics I don’t know where to begin.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Aww. That’s one of the nicest comments I’ve ever received. Thank you! I have plenty of material that needs uploaded. Tore an ACL and sort of went down for a bit.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I was wondering about you..I was getting email notifications then I wasn’t for a while. I thought, oh no… He’s gone lol so I’m making a point to catch up on your posts. I’m so ADHD on my intake of interesting info plus trying to make time for slowing down, meditation and sacred reading as well. I meant to follow more closely when I read your post that had something to do with Hebrew. It was so well written and mind-blowing…I meant to read more then but then forgot. 🤦♀️
I feel you about your ACL that’s no fun! Hang in there and I hope you recover quickly! 🤍