Monday, May 18, 2015

Lectio Divina

There are not many undertakings in my life which have had as profound an effect as the practice of lectio divina (sacred reading).

Lectio divina (pronounced lexio diveena) is the practice of spending at least ½ an hour each day reading the Sacred Scriptures in a relaxed, systematic, attentive way.

[Now right at the start I'll get your attention big time by telling you the Church offers a Plenary Indulgence, under the usual conditions, to those who read the Scriptures for ½ an hour a day.]

Reading (lectio) is the first step in the process. This is an art in itself and very challenging. The bible is a big book and its size can easily discourage us. Fortunately, in lectio we take it only a page or two, or even a paragraph, at a time. There is no rush to get the bible finished. Each day we read only what can be 'processed' in the ½ hour we have set ourselves. Our aim is not to finish the bible - our aim is to read the bible for ½ an hour a day.

We start at the beginning with the Book of Genesis. We read a line or a few lines. We pause. Questions will come: Is this true? What does this word mean? When was this written? How does he know this? To answer these questions we need to do some bible study. Lectio, however, is not bible study. The ultimate aim of lectio is to let the bible study us. In bible study we get into the bible. In lectio divina we let the Bible get into us.

We may find this distinction puzzling at first but it isn't really. We are so accustomed to taking the primary role in all our activities, so that our activity is our primary concern, that we find it disconcerting to be asked to do something so that we can be docile to the more important activity of the other, so that the Other may do something to us.

So much of our prayer is habitually directed to getting God to change his mind about something, our illness, our work, our family, that we can hesitate before a prayer whose intent is to allow God to change us.

Let me repeat - the main focus of our activity in lectio divina is to give God an opportunity to come to meet us, to let God have free access to our hearts and minds, a bit like the way we give access to the surgeon and his scalpel when we go to hospital.


  1. You have such a wonderful way of expressing things, so that they are easy to understand, and MEAN something to us, and touch us - and help us to grow. Thank you! God is good!

  2. J. has hit the nail on the head! Your explanation of Lectio Divina is so very lucid and easy to follow. It could not be more helpful..nor inviting! Thank you.