In the Christian religion, there is a Latin phrase that encompasses the meaning of reading the Christian Bible. It is “Lectio Divina” or divine reading. A four-step process exists in Lectio Divina which includes reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation.
Lectio Divina and Christianity
The early church established Lectio Divina in the 6th Century and the leaders were Saint Benedict and Pope Gregory I. The original practice of the discipline was carried out primarily in the Benedictine monasteries. But today it is celebrated by many of the faithful in their daily Christian practice. Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God and their goal in life is to seek the divine meanings of the words within the Bible and establish how it relates to their lives.
Each step in Lectio Divina has certain actions that accompany it.
This step requires preparation by the participant. First, the setting for the reading must be quiet and tranquil away from all outside noise of daily life. There must be a total stillness. The purpose is to find the message of Christ as the Bible verses are being read. Then the process of reading begins with selected passages being chosen. They are read slowly with each word examined. For better clarification of the passage, there should be several readings of the same verses. This allows for a greater amount of understanding. Reading may also include texts outside the Bible such as spiritual classics or other uplifting, spiritual works.
This step is known as the “communion with God”. The Biblical passages are contemplated while awaiting guidance from God through the Holy Spirit. Analyzing the passage is not the purpose but meditating on the words so that they influence one’s state of mind is. A phrase such as “love thy neighbor” would not be analyzed as to why one needs to do this but how one can achieve this. Meditation digests what has been read so that insight is gained.
Prayer is known as the channel of communication with God. It is done at the invitation from God. We speak to God in our prayers and we await his response through our faith.
The final part of Lectio Divina is for a silent prayer that conveys a love for God and a time of total quiet while sitting in reflection on God. It involves a time of total attention and concentration on God. Sometimes contemplation can be achieved by being surrounded in the beauty of nature.
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