Jesus said to His apostles, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
I was asked a question about Lectio Divina, which I had mentioned in a recent reflection about my new life as a Lay Carmelite. To clarify, Lectio Divina, a Latin term meaning “divine reading”, has roots in monastic traditions, including the hermits of Mt. Carmel, and is a more reflective form of prayer, which is at the heart of the Carmelite charism of prayer, community and service.
Silence is key to Lectio Divina, as the purpose is to quietly reflect on the Word of God, so that our experience is transformed from speaking the Word to listening for God so that “the Word is revealed before the eyes of the heart”. You may recall in 1 Kings 19:11-13 when the Lord God told Elijah to stand on the mountain to await the Lord to pass by. Not finding the Lord in a strong wind, earthquake or fire, it was a gentle whisper through which Elijah heard God speak to him.
Being still and making space available to God (vacare Deo), we might be better prepared to hear God speaking to our hearts more succinctly, revealing His desires for our lives. Lectio Divina is a means of allowing the whispers of God, revealed through Scripture, to penetrate our busy, often self-absorbed lives. But first, it is necessary to begin the work to dampen the noises of life, including some of the clatter which may be arising from our routine and repetitive forms of prayer.
There are several stages to achieving this deeper connection with Christ through Lectio Divina. Stage One is reading the Word of God, but not too long a reading, in a slow and reflective manner. Stage Two is silent mediation, where we think about the Word we have chosen, and ponder on what God is saying. Stage Three is response, where we stop thinking and simply allow our hearts to speak to God, inspired by our reading of God’s Word. The final stage of Lectio Divina is contemplation, or resting in the Word, where we endeavor to empty our minds of our own gleanings and ideas, and instead “listen at the deepest level of our being to God, who speaks within us with a still, small voice”.
Lectio Divina requires practice and patience, as this is a gradual movement of changing the way we read and reflect on Scripture, opening us to a transformation in our prayers, from less talking and more listening, enabling us to grow stronger in our relationship with Christ.
Have a Blessed Week!
(Quotes taken from https://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/what-lectio-divina, which was referenced for this reflection)