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This method of prayer goes back to the early monastic tradition. There were not bibles for everyone and not everyone knew how to read. So the monks gathered in chapel to hear a member of the community reading from the scripture. In this exercise they were taught and encouraged to listen with their hearts because it was the Word of God that they were hearing.
When a person wants to use Lectio Divina as a prayer form today, the method is very simple. First one goes to a quiet place and recalls that one is about to listen to the Word of God. Then one reads the scripture passage aloud to let oneself hear with his or her own ears the words. When one finishes reading, pause and recall if some word or phrase stood out or something touched one’s heart. If so, pause and savor the insight, feeling, or understanding. Then go back and read the passage again because it will have a fuller meaning. Pause again and note what happened. If one wants to dialogue with God or Jesus in response to the word, one should follow the prompting of one’s heart. This kind of reflective listening allows the Holy Spirit to deepen awareness of God’s taking the initiative to speak with us.
Lectio Divina can also be an effective form for group prayer. After a passage is read, there can be some extended silence for each person to savor what he or she has heard, particularly noting whether any word or phrase became a special focus of attention. Sometimes groups invite members, if they so desire, to share out loud the word or phrase that struck them. This is done without discussion. Then a different person from the group would read the passage again with a pause for silence. Different emphases might be suggested after each reading: What gift does this passage lead me to ask from the Lord? What does this passage call me to do? The prayer can be concluded with an Our Father.
Whether one prays individually or in a group, Lectio Divina is a flexible and easy way to pray. One first listens, notes what is given and responds in a way one is directed by the Holy Spirit.
Gospel Contemplation :: The early Christians did not waste a lot of energy looking back and wishing they had been born a hundred years earlier so they could have walked with Jesus. Instead they focused on coming to know Christ in three powerful ways: through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist; the stories and emerging writings about Jesus; and his powerful presence when they gathered in his name.
Saint Ignatius Loyola invited a person when an individual made a retreat in the pattern of his Spiritual Exercises to pray to come to know Christ so that one may love him in a more real way and following from this knowledge and love become a more faithful disciple.
In order to grow in this faith knowledge, Ignatius invited the retreat and to engage in a prayer method called contemplation. This is not some kind of mystical prayer but a prayer form in which one uses his or her senses in an imaginative way to reflect on a Gospel passage. One uses the senses, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling to make the Gospel scene real and alive.
Here is a way of engaging in this prayer form which is relaxing and rather easy.
From Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book © 2009 Marquette University Press
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