‘If you make my word your home, you will indeed be my disciples, and you will learn the truth and the truth will set you free.’ Jesus invites us into the ‘glorious freedom of the children of God’ (Romans 8, 21), into his very own life of communion with the Father, in the Spirit, who is our life. Down the ages, men and women have entered into that joyful place of union with God through prayer and contemplation, as well as active ministry. As Mary treasured and pondered the words of the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, and the words and actions of her Son, so we are invited to enter into that place of intimate communion through our prayerful pondering of God’s word in Scripture, and our faithful living what we hear.
This contemplative pondering of Scripture, Lectio Divina, (Sacred Reading), has evolved through the monastic tradition, as the Community devotes its life to prayer in silence and Liturgy, in order to listen ever more deeply to the Word who speaks, and then to live what has been received. The repetition of Psalms and readings plants the Word firmly in the heart to guide, heal and transform.
Since the Second Vatican Council, this practice of Lectio Divina has become increasingly widespread, and many individuals and groups now relish the fruit of this ancient art.
Reading (Lectio), Pondering (Meditatio), Praying (Oratio), Contemplating (Contemplatio) and finally Living the Word (Actio) are the natural stages of this process, giving time to allow the Spirit to speak, prompt, heal, teach and lead the disciple. ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’
St Benedict in his Rule emphasises the importance of listening with the ear of the heart, so that we can follow in the Way that leads to Life. Many Lectio prayer groups are emerging out of this desire to listen and follow, and the fruit of this prayer is manifold.