Lectio Divina: Listening as Communion and Transformation
Lectio Divina, sometimes called spiritual reading, is a principal practice of Camaldolese spirituality, if not a spirituality in itself. Lectio begins as a method of approaching scripture in order to Listen to the Word of God, seeking to encounter Christ. It begins as a method, but grows into a spirituality, leading to a more constant awareness of God’s presence.
The traditional four fold method of Lectio Divina:
- Lectio: The actual reading and re-reading of the text, usually biblical, until certain words or phrases call forth our attention.
- Meditatio: the rumination on key words, phrases or images, allowing them to evoke something within the reader.
- Oratio: These words, phrases or key words eventually evoke or inspire prayer. We hear the word and respond in loving dialogue.
- Contemplatio: Dialogue gives way to silent awareness of God’s presence. We simply abide with God as long as attracted by God’s grace.
Lectio is greatly enhanced when given sufficient time, and with greater biblical knowledge through study and familiarity with the Bible. In this way the continual awareness of God’s presence will develop.
Lectio has the potential to become prayer itself, in which true transformation of consciousness takes place. Unexpected manifestations of God can occur, silently calling from the midst of things to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Lectio challenges us to re-appropriate our own heritage of the Word of Scripture as a source of “real presence” and “real food” with which to be truly nourished.
Lectio Divina Resources
First of all, a good Bible, one that has some footnotes and commentary can be especially helpful. Be sure the type is large enough for you to read comfortably.
There are numerous books on Lectio Divina – the following are especially recommended:
Holy Reading by Innocenzo Gargano, OSB Cam., translated by Walter Vitale, translation © 2007 Canterbury Press.
Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina by Thelma Hall (Paperback – May 1988).
Lectio Divina: Renewing the Ancient Practice of Praying the Scripturesby M. Basil Pennington.
Sacred Readings: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina by Michael Casey (Paperback – April 1996).