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More and more Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain are turned to making Lectio Divina (sacred reading) an integral part of their reflective Bible reading, joining people throughout the world who find it a source of deep spiritual growth.
Written by the late Fr Michel de Verteuil (CSSp) and around since 2004, this reprint talks about the three stages of Lectio Divina—Divine Reading; in which you read the passage slowly and reverentially allowing the words to sink into your consciousness. Meditation; in which you allow the passage to stir up memories within you, so that you recognise it in your own experience, or that of people who have touched your life. Prayer; which allows you to meditate to lead you to prayer, thanksgiving, humility and petition.
He said in the book’s introduction that the basic principle of Lectio Divina is that Bible reading is a personal encounter with God, a communion which resembles (though different from) the communion of the Eucharist. Lectio Divina, like all imaginative communication—especially storytelling—teaches not directly but by changing the consciousness of those who practise it.
Fr de Verteuil continued, “By identifying ourselves with God’s people—Jesus, the prophets and the great men and women of the Old and New Testaments—we find ourselves adopting their attitudes. We also recognise ourselves in the bad characters of the text—the Pharisees, Pharaoh, the apostles when they were jealous of each other—and find that we want to give up these attitudes.”
He said, “Lectio blossoms spontaneously into prayer in three dimensions—Thanksgiving that Jesus is alive in the story of grace: Humility that the story of sin is alive and Petition that the story of grace may prevail—Come, Lord Jesus.” In the book we experience the true meaning of theology entering through Bible reading into the wisdom of God or, more accurately, allowing God-alive-in-the-Bible to lead us into wisdom, humbly, gratefully and with awe like St Paul on the road to Damascus. The wisdom of God gives us his perspective on every aspect of life; one-to-one relationships, but also economics, politics, agriculture, etc.
Speaking glowingly of Lectio, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris wrote in his foreword, “The introduction is in fact a treatise on the method of prayer and Bible study and should be studied on its own.” He added that as we practise the publication it was important to come to a biblical understanding of time. Harris pointed out, “In the present, time is conceived of in terms of production and money; the biblical understanding is that time is for relationships. So that time has to be given to the building of our relationship with God and with Christ through the scriptures so that our lives become sacred.”
He said, “While the coming to harmony will not happen overnight, fidelity to the practice of Lectio Divina gradually prepares individuals and communities to live the selfless love which defines sacred living and will bring our nations to the point in which our grandchildren and great grandchildren will see what we dreamt of and never saw it and will hear what we dreamt of and never heard it.”
• Vernon Khelawan is a columnist for Catholic Media Services Ltd (Camsel), the official communications arm of the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain. Its offices are located at 31 Independence Square. Telephone: 623-7620.
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