Lectio Divina, a precious Christian invitation to pray

Lectio Divina, a precious Christian invitation to pray

Lectio Divina , which means in Latin: divine reading, which can be interpreted as prayerful reading, is a methodology of reflection and prayer of a biblical text used by Catholics since the early years of Christianity. The first to use this expression was Origen, who lived approximately between the years 185 and 254, and was a theologian, who affirmed that to read the Bible profitably, it is required that we do so with attention, perseverance and prayer.

Lectio Divina Practice

In the practice of lectio divina we must have a receptive and reflective attitude about what God tells us through the word. The practice of lectio divina is divided into four parts: lectio, meditatio, oratio and contemplatio, which translated means reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation.

These stages must be fulfilled silently and contemplatively. In medieval times, this methodology was used particularly by the monastic clergy. But over time it managed to spread to the faithful. Today it is a common practice among practicing Catholics.

What is Lectio Divina or prayerful reading of the Word?

Lectio Divina consists of reading the Holy Scriptures in a non-academic way, but in a spiritual way, with which it is intended that we can “know Jesus in an increasingly personal way, listening to him, living with him, being with him , being his friends”, achieving a communion of thought that “is not something merely intellectual, but also a communion of feelings and of will, and therefore also of action”.

Pope Benedict XVI recommended this ancient practice to us, which literally means “reading from God.” The continuous reading of the Sacred Scriptures, together with the due prayer, will allow us to carry out that intimate dialogue with which, through reading, we listen to God speaking to us, and through prayer, we will be able to respond to him with a confident openness of heart.

This proposal, during the last forty years, has received a new and great promotion throughout the Church, after the publication of the dogmatic constitution “Dei Verbum” of the Second Vatican Council, which occurred on November 18, 1965.

The Holy Father indicated that if this practice was promoted efficiently, he was sure that a new spiritual spring would be produced in the Catholic Church, because we can never forget that the Word of God is a lamp of light that will guide our steps and light. on our way

How to pray with the Word of God

Using the method of prayerful reading of the Word, in addition to being a reflection, is also an experience of personal and intimate reunion with God, who loves you and who comes to meet you. These steps will take you into the very interior of the Word. These are the steps of lectio divina that you must follow to achieve that inner dialogue with God:

The first step is for you to invoke the Holy Spirit. Ask him to enlighten you and open you to the understanding of his Word and to encourage you to the correct response with your life and your works.

After that, read the biblical text very slowly. Then she goes back to reading it again. It is also helpful to read a comment that can allow you to better understand the meaning of the text you are reading. Let the Lord spend as much time as necessary and try to listen to the message that He wants to give you in those Words. What does the text say? One wonders: What happens in this passage of the Gospel? There is a passage that reminds us that Jesus is in the synagogue in Nazareth, and that he reads the Hebrew Scriptures.

In this case, at the beginning of his public ministry, the Lord exposes both his identity and his mission to the inhabitants of his city. He must have made a great impression on them to hear “a young man from the village” comment on a reading from the prophet Isaiah, and then say, “This very day the Scripture has been fulfilled that you just heard.” In other words, that he is the fulfillment of Scripture! At first, the people probably thought it was a pleasant experience to hear Jesus reading, but afterward they turned against him and nearly killed him.

Somehow, the Lord passes through their midst and leaves. He should not be surprised, then, that this passage is called “the rejection at Nazareth.”

Meditate on the true meaning of the Word, on what the Word tells you that you have read slowly. Once you have managed to grasp the meaning of the text, it will be time to ask yourself the question: what does this Word tell me? What does God want to say to me in this text? In this step, one must think if there is something that God wants to make known to us with this passage. In almost every opportunity one will be able to relate it to some event or experience of our life.

Let’s say, have there been situations or have we been in places where we have felt called to speak “in the name of God”, even if someone who is present rejects it? In the Gospel passage about “the rejection of Nazareth”, Jesus probably knew that his message was going to be controversial, but still he proclaimed it. Is there something in your life that drives you to take a very strong and even risky position? Perhaps this is what God wants to communicate to you.

Pray, because through prayer you will respond to the Lord, who has sent you his message in the meditated Word. May your attitude be that of the Virgin Mary: May it be done to me according to your Word. What do I want to say to God about the text I am reading? After meditating on this passage, we may be afraid of what you think the Lord is asking you to do. Whether this means having to defend someone who has been abused, or even having to defend ourselves, who knows if the idea might scare us.

Perhaps we fear being rejected, and even more, being rejected by acquaintances and close friends, as Jesus did in his own city. But we may also be encouraged by the example of Jesus’ trust, and try to remember that all the prophets most likely had some fear when they had to fulfill their mission of making the prophecies known.

With everything and that, both Jesus and the prophets transmitted the message, they acted despite fear, always with trust in God. Use this prayer step to let the Lord know how you feel about the outcome of your meditation. You must be honest and do not worry: Because God is not surprised by any emotion!

With everything and that, both Jesus and the prophets transmitted the message, they acted despite fear, always with trust in God. Use this prayer step to let the Lord know how you feel about the outcome of your meditation. You must be honest and do not worry: Because God is not surprised by any emotion!

Contemplate, try to make the Word impress you, fascinate you, in silence, in calm. Let yourself be carried away by the ardor of the Word, like those who receive heat and light from the sun.

Act, you need to make a commitment that is the product of that encounter with the Lord. It is the true jump to life. Encouraged and invaded by the Word, you will be able to return to your life with a different attitude. What to do as a result of prayer? The final step is to act. Prayer should move us to act, even if this only means that we should be more compassionate and faithful to the teachings.

After we have read the narrative of what Jesus did in the synagogue, we have reflected on what God tells us and we have told God what we think, it is time to take action. It may be that you decide to carry out some concrete action, in order to be able to defend more decisively and courageously those who may be oppressed, or you decide that what you should do is forgive someone who has caused you some harm, or you even think that you want pray more about what needs to be done.

Whatever the outcome, it’s time to stop praying and take action. You have to know how to savor and listen. There is another way of practicing lectio divina that is a little different, in which one simply stays meditating on an idea, a single word or phrase that one chooses from the passage that one has read. In this way one can “savor” the text, as Saint Ignatius of Loyola said.

This has very good results with the psalms. Take the case of Psalm 23, which begins with the phrase “The Lord is my shepherd.” When you come to the phrase “In green meadows he makes me lie down,” you may be inclined to ponder how nice it might be to have a quiet, peaceful rest in that green meadow.

If you are a very busy person, maybe you can take advantage of this opportunity, just to rest with God, or you can think of those places or situations that in your life you could compare with “green meadows” and thank God for that. In this way, your lectio divina would be limited only to a concentrated prayer or a peaceful rest, a gratitude without words.

God has different ways of acting in the lives of his children and many means to communicate with us. The practice of lectio divina is only one of them. The Lord can speak to us through the Holy Mass and the sacraments, as well as through our experiences and friendships and also from nature, music and art. In all those moments, the voice of God comes to us; therefore, when you pray and feel that God speaks to you, you must pay attention and listen.

No matter how old you are, lectio divina for young people works in the same way as for older people, because everyone has to understand God from their own perspective. In this sense, if you are a person who is faithful to prayer with and from the Word of God, surely your life will change. The Word will allow you to confront your criteria, feelings, attitudes and behavior, with what the Word itself inspires you. You need to love the Word, study it, let it shape your personality.

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