+Lectio Divina, An Ancient Art Chapter Talk, 1 March, 2020
The morning I thought to offer a few reflections on the art of Lectio Divina in view of having distributed our Lenten books. Being faithful to our Lenten reading provides us with the opportunity to enter into a deeper communion with the living God. I thought to draw on some reflections presented by Fr Luke Dysinger, OSB who gave some talks to the community a few years ago. Also I’m going to put out in the Scriptorium a couple copies of two Chapter talks Fr Elias gave on this subject back in August of 2004. Having talked to him on the phone last Friday, he is fine with this.
Fr Luke Dysinger tells us that:
“This ancient practice [of Lectio Divina] has been kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, and is one of the precious treasures of Benedictine monastics and oblates. Together with the Liturgy and daily manual labor, time set aside in a special way for lectio divina enables us to discover in our daily life an underlying spiritual rhythm.”
It enables not only to discover, let me suggest, but find delight in and maintain a healthy spiritual rhythm in our daily lives. In the early centuries of monastic life Lectio Divina meant contemplative praying with the Scriptures or Bible only but today it has come to include commentaries on the Word of God or any spiritual writing that conveys the truth of our Christian faith as exemplified by the books just given out to each of you. Whatever the inspired Word we expose ourselves to, what allows it to be truly divine are the inner dispositions of our hearts.
Dysinger goes on to say:
“The art of lectio divina begins with cultivating the ability to listen deeply, to hear ‘with the ear of our hearts” as St Benedict encourages us in the Prologue to the Rule. When we read the Scriptures [or the book we have chosen for this season] we should try to imitate the prophet Elijah. We should allow ourselves to become like those who are able to listen for the still, small voice of God (1 Kings 19:12); the “faint murmuring sound” which is God’s word for us, God’s voice touching our hearts. This gentle listening is an “atunement” to the presence of God in that special part of God’s creation which is the Scriptures.
This careful attentiveness or listening leads in turn to ruminating, to reflecting deeply on the words we hear interiorly as spoken to us. It is very much like Mary’s “pondering in her heart” what she saw and heard, allowing it to interact with our thoughts, hopes, memories and desires. Inevitably, this will also take us deeper into prayer where we struggle to truly live whatever is asked of us by the Word. To do so, is to become interiorly transformed.
This in turn will bring us to a contemplative experience, where to use a final quote from Dysinger:
“We simply rest in the presence of the One who has used His word as a means of inviting us to accept His transforming embrace. No one who has ever been in love needs to be reminded that there are moments in loving relationships when words are unnecessary. It is the same in our relationship with God.”
This is where our lives are oriented, the awareness we long for all our lives. All that is asked is that we give it the time, the inner discipline and attentiveness necessary for grace to work.