What, Why, Where, How to do Lectio Divina
The Collaborative of Holy Redeemer and Immaculate Conception invites you to begin the practice of Lectio Divina.
“I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio Divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum- n.25) If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church - I am convinced of it - a new spiritual springtime.” ~Pope Benedict XVI , September 2005
WHAT IS LECTIO DIVINA? Lectio Divina literally means “holy reading,” but it is much more than a way to read scripture. At its heart, Lectio Divina is an encounter with Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate, where we meet Christ through scripture and re-orient our days and relationships (Bishop Collins videos on Lectio Divina, part 1 and part 2 are alive and active and will transform each of us if we open ourselves to receive what God wants to give us.)
IS THIS A NEW PRAYER PRACTICE OF THE CHURCH? Lectio Divina, is an ancient practice of the church introduced by St. Benedict of Nursia. As a way of praying with the Scriptures, it has been a fruitful source of growing in relationship with Christ for many centuries and, in our own day, is being rediscovered by many individuals and groups.
I ALREADY PRAY. HOW IS LECTIO DIVINA DIFFERENT? Too often, our prayer life consists of recitation and talking to God without spending time listening to God and resting in His presence. Our God is always inviting us into a deeper relationship, a sacred encounter. Through prayer, we speak to God and through the Scriptures, God speaks to us. Spending time with the Word of God is one way to connect with the source of our being.
WHY USE THIS METHOD OF PRAYER? The practice of Lectio Divina will help us in our mission to grow closer to Christ and to become ever more intentional disciples, as outlined in our HRIC Pastoral Plan.
WHERE CAN I DO LECTIO DIVINA? You can do Lectio Divina alone, in small groups, or with your family.
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE AND HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO IT? Lectio Divina can be practiced in about 15 minutes, but spend more time as you are led by the Holy Spirit. You’ll get the most benefit if you make time to practice Lectio Divina daily, but feel free to start with a couple of sessions. We’re sure you’ll find this prayer encounter spiritually beneficial and will feel a nudge to carve out more time from your week for this invaluable practice.
HOW CAN I LEARN HOW LECTIO DIVINA WORKS? There are many short, instructional videos easily accessible on the internet. You can also review the list of resources at the end of this document.
Lectio Divina is not a catechesis or a teaching but it is a prayer, a divine reading, a personal encounter with God in Sacred Scripture.
Lectio Divina Encountering Jesus Christ In His Living Word
Preparation for Lectio Divina
- Choose a quiet prayerful place in your home, office, outdoors, or local church
- Select a passage of the Word of God, for example the Sunday or daily Gospel, or a continuous reading of one book of Scripture
- Select an appropriate time and duration (20 to 40 minutes for those beginning)
- Assume a prayerful and serene posture, comfortable yet not too relaxed
- Humbly recognize the Presence of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- Praise and thank Him for His Word and this moment of prayer
- Ask the Holy Spirit for the gift to receive the Word of God as He wills Him to be received
Reading--Lectio - What does the Word of God say?
- Slowly read the passage with great attention and reverence a few times, aloud if possible
- Notice the words that strike you in a particular way, positively or negatively
Meditation--Meditatio - What does the Word of God say to me?
- Think about why those particular words and phrases struck you; how do they apply to you?
- Reflect on your own reactions to the Word; what is God showing you about yourself?
Prayer--Oratio - What do I say to God in response to His Word?
- Respond sincerely in a conversation with God as with a friend; talk about what is really in your heart
- Praise, thank, trust Him; ask for forgiveness; intercede, petition for graces
Contemplation--Contemplatio - No questions here, Just humbly and gratefully rest in the presence of God.
- Be with the Word and rest in God
- Simply spend time with God in adoration Concluding Prayer
- Praise and thank God for the graces received
- Close with Our Father
After Lectio Divina
Repetition--Repetitio - Where was I moved most in my prayer?
- Return the next time to the Word of God that moved me and where I found fruit
Action--Actio - What am I resolved to do now that I have received the Word of God?
- Make concrete resolutions about how my life is going to change because of what God has given me.
Resources to learn more about Lectio Divina for all ages:
- Peanut Butter and Grace Lectio Divina for Kids: Teach Your Kids to Pray with Scripture http://www.pbgrace.com/lectio-divina-for-kids/
- Lectio Divina for Children and Teens: Activities to Help Young People Encounter God’s Word https://www.catholicdos.org/documents/2017/2/Lectio_Divina_for_Children_and_Teens_Jared_Dees.pdf
- Fr. James Martin: "What is Lectio Divina" video presentation for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 24, 2013, 6 1/2 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWPLTYceDgw&t=1s
- Fr. Josh Johnson: “What is Lectio Divina” video presentation, 4 1/2 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKYEOc3ik9k
- Fr. Thomas Keating: “Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer” video presentation, 66 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D1_zq38dqA
- Paulist Evangelical Ministries: “Learn Lectio Divina” video presentation, 9 1/2 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhwRcg1mHec
- Dr. Thomas Gray: “Lectio Divina” video interview, 35 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMCyruvn9tU&sns=em
- Fr. Mark Toups: “How to Pray Lectio Divina” video presentation in four parts (each part is between 5-6 minutes)
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKSp_s04sVg
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow4yU3qOtrc
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYb_c5Bc6AE
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvmeV6yDN9o
- Lectio Divina article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lectio_Divina
- Order of Carmelites, Rome, Italy http://ocarm.org/en/lectio-divina
Praying with Lectio Divina before or after receiving
the Sacrament of Reconciliation
One way to prepare for, or to give thanks for, receiving the sacrament of reconciliation is to pray using Lectio Divina. This is a form of prayer that involves a reflective reading of a short Scripture passage where the reader/penitent seeks to deepen his/her relationship with the Lord by:
first, thoughtfully reading and considering the meaning of the passage;
second, carefully discerning how the passage relates to his/her life;
third, humbly conversing with the Lord in response to His inspired words in the passage; and,
fourth, quietly spending time with the Lord in the silence of one’s grateful heart.
The amount of time spent in each of the four steps listed above is determined by the one who is praying. Whether one chooses to pray this way with the Scripture passage below before or after receiving the sacrament is his/her choice.
Scripture passage: Psalm 51: 3-14
3 Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
4 Thoroughly wash away my guilt;
and from my sin cleanse me.
5 For I know my transgressions;
my sin is always before me.
6 Against you, you alone have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your eyes
11 Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my iniquities.
12 A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit.
13 Do not drive me from before your face,
nor take from me your holy spirit.
14 Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;
uphold me with a willing spirit.