Lectio Divina (a
Latin expression which means sacred reading) is done in
Reading: you read
the passage slowly and reverentially, allowing the words
to sink into your consciousness;
allow the passage to stir up memories within you, so
that you recognize in it your own experience or that
of people who have touched your life;
Prayer: you allow
the meditation to lead you to prayer- thanksgiving, humility
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 This goes against what has
prevailed in our church for some centuries: the text
was seen as containing a message - doctrinal or moral - and
once we got the message, the text had achieved its purpose
In lectio divina , we love the text, linger over
it, read it over and over, let it remain with us.
When we approach the text in
this way, we come face to face with the fact that it
speaks to our imagination. A Bible text is not like a
textbook or a newspaper, providing us with objective
It was not written like that. Instead it
stirs up feelings; we find ourselves identifying with
the characters - we feel for them admire them or dislike
We are caught up in the movement of the text, its
suspense, its dramatic reversals of fortune, its unanswered
Gradually we 'recognise' the text; we find that we have
lived the sequence of events ourselves, or have seen them
lived in others who have touched our lives, for good or
Reading the text becomes a homecoming - a lifting
up. We find ourselves caught up in the movement of God's
people, 'fellow citizens with the saints' ( Ephesus
2: 19 ); we are the lowly ones whom God 'lifts up
from the dust and sets in the company of princes, yes the
princes of the people.' ( Ps. 113: 7-8).
Lectio Divina like
all imaginative communication - especially
storytelling - teaches not directly but by changing the
consciousness of those who practise it. By identifying
ourselves with God's people- Jesus, the prophets and great
men and women of the Old and New testaments - we find ourselves
adopting their attitudes.
We also recognize 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.
The Bible, recognized as coinciding
with our experience, reveals to us the truth about life - not abstract truth,
but an ideal we hunger and thirst for and, from another
perspective, an evil we recoil from.
In the Bible text,
therefore we discover the double reality of every human
person - a story of sin and a story of. They are not equally
true, however - the story of grace is the deep truth of
the person, their 'true name', the wheat which God will
gather into his barn; sin is the chaff that will be burnt
in a fire that never goes out (cf Mt. 3 : 12).
Lectio blossoms spontaneously into prayer in three dimensions:
Jesus is alive in the story of grace;
Humility that the
story of sin is alive;
Petition that the
story of grace may prevail -"Come
In Lectio Divina 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
Lectio Divina is best taught and practiced with the church's
Sunday lectionary as it was reformed after the Second Vatican
Council. It has its shortcomings, but overall it is a wonderfully
constructed three-year programme in Bible reading.
faithful to the lectionary in this way, we experience ourselves
in communion with the church and, through the church with
all humanity, sharing in the grace and the sin of our contemporaries.
We can say of Bible reading what St Paul says of the Eucharist: ''We
though many, form one body because we partake of the one
(1 Cor 10-17).