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A New Way to Read

As I sit down to write today, I realize that, if you are regularly reading our Fermata blogs, you may be wondering what is going on!  So, I want to clarify. At the beginning of this year, I offered to share with you some of the spiritual practices that have been helpful to me over the years. So, on Mondays, I am continuing to share these at least for a few more weeks. Then, on Fridays, Dom and I are sharing a more devotional approach as we are reading daily the Sermon on the Mount and seeking to live what Jesus was teaching there. We plan to share our journey and hopefully provoke you to journey with us!



So, here is the next spiritual practice idea:


 I wonder what your practice is in relation to

reading and studying the Bible? I know that through the years I have gone through different ideas, some of which are probably familiar to you: reading through the whole Bible in a year (how often did I fail to get to the end?); reading a few OT chapters and one NT chapter a day; reading a Psalm and a Proverb a day (one of my favorites); recently, I read slowly through the Gospel of John, with a desire to get to know Jesus better, journaling my questions to Him and trying to find some level of understanding; reading a devotional book and journaling; the list could go on.


However, I want to share here a method that has been a huge blessing to me. It is a powerful and effective tool for hearing God speak to you. It is great to use personally or in a small group: Lectio Divina. There are usually four steps involved; apparently Pope Benedict XVI suggested a fifth.


A favorite Psalm quote we hear often is the invitation to “Be still and know that I am GOD”. And the many times David encourages himself to wait patiently for God. How do we move towards being still, to patiently waiting in God’s presence? In our hurried, stressful world, this often feels impossible. How many times have I heard people say, “The moment I sit down to be still before God, my mind races with all the things I should be doing!’’ How to be still? How to quietly wait in God’s presence? How to allow God’s love to embrace us? I find it helps to have some structure to move through to encourage my doing this. Lectio Divina is such a structure.


Before you begin, choose a passage, preferably in the Gospels or one of Paul’s letters, that you would like to focus on. A short passage is best. Relax, and acknowledge God’s presence with you and ask the Holy Spirit to guide and enlighten you.


Here are the steps including my experiences and suggestions:


1.       Lectio—Reading. Read the text, preferably aloud—it helps to hear it as well as see it. Read it slowly and thoughtfully, letting the words soak in.  Allow your imagination to draw you into the scene. Be present to the words. Read it through at least twice. Pause.



2.       Meditatio—Meditate.

Read it a third time, this time asking God to quicken to you a phrase or word that He wants to bring alive to you from the text.  Ponder it. Sit with it. Ask God for insight around the ideas that begin to arise; ask God for His wisdom to understand what this means for you today. Pause.



3.       Oratio—Prayer. Respond to God. Have a conversation with God about what you have heard, and be open to the invitation that is arising for you. Ask God for guidance about what you can do in response. The invitation may be to praise, to thanksgiving, to seeking healing or forgiveness. Take time to really respond to His love for you and His desire for you to grow in your walk with Him. Cultivate a willingness to change, an openness to and a trust in God and an expressed desire to follow God’s will rather than your own. Let this give rise to a sense of adventure—that life can be different! Pause.

 

4.       Contemplatio—Contemplation. Sit quietly and rest in God’s presence. Be humble and open to His transforming power in your life. Allow the Spirit to hold you in His love. This may be difficult at first, but with practice, you will welcome this peaceful restful time.

 

5.       Actio—Action. This is an additional step that is important. As you leave this special time with God, what will you take with you into your day? How can what you have experienced in God’s presence change how you relate to the people you will meet throughout the rest of the day? How can you make your life a gift to others? Having received God’s love, how can you serve others out of that love? What have you learned that can change how you are present to others? This too will take practice to bring change, but what a blessing and joy it will become.

 


How does this sound to you? Worth a try? I hope you will. I would love to hear from you about your experience with Lectio!

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