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An Experience of Lectio Divina

This is a form of prayer that was widely used for centuries in the church and has been attributed to St. Benedict. In our centering group we read a scripture passage or sacred reading four times with a few minutes of silence between each reading, followed by faith sharing. We are building a relationship with God and one another through this process.

Prayer as Relationship is what Lectio Divina is about. The most ancient method of developing the friendship of Christ is by using scripture as topics of conversation with Christ. We grow through developing the "Senses of Scripture."

READING I.   The first time we hear the reading we are listening with "the ears of our heart" for a LITERAL interpretation of the Word. We are getting acquainted with God through the Word. We learn to be silent to hear someone speak softly. Listen for the "still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12).  This gentle listening is an 'attunement' to the presence of God in that special part of God's creation which is the Scriptures. We listen in a spirit of silence and awe.

There are four levels of consciousness, four levels of developing faith which introduces you at each new level into a whole new world of reality in which your relationship with God is substantially changed for the better, transformed, and begins to partake of the penetrating look into the mystery that is characteristic of Contemplative prayer and the Contemplative dimension of the Gospel.

The first time you hear the reading, ask yourself what is the word or phrase that strikes you as you listen to scripture?

LITERAL LEVEL CONSCIOUSNESS -- Studying the teachings of Christ

READING II.   The second time we read the Word we reflect (ruminate) on the Word and become aware of the thoughts that rise to your awareness. We take in the Word and gently repeating it to ourselves, allow it to interact with our thoughts, our hopes, our memories, and our desires. Don't THINK about it, just BE with it. This is the second step or stage in lectio divina; meditatio- meditation. We develop a MORAL understanding of the Word. We allow God's word to become His word for us, a word that touches us and affects us at our deepest levels. A good example is the Blessed Virgin Mary "Pondering in her heart" what she saw and heard of Christ (Luke 2:19).

During this time of reflection we are becoming friendly with God and the Moral level of consciousness is developing.

READING III.  The third time we read the Word we develop a loving conversation and allow God to embrace us during this prayer. There is a special anointing which consecrates us on every level of our being. A deep friendship is growing as we allow the word, that we have taken in, and on which we are pondering to touch and change our deepest selves. At this level of prayer, a prayer of praise may flow from your heart in response to God's word in you. In this oratio, we allow our real selves to be touched and changed by the word of God. During this time a spontaneous prayer may arise out of the silence, which is your response to God's presence and action within you.

This third level of consciousness is the Allegorical level which requires a Spiritual level of listening.

READING IV.  We simply rest in the presence of the one who has used His word as a means of inviting us to accept His transforming embrace. We call this level, Union of Life or the unitive level of consciousness. The Spirit is acting in you completely at this level. Wordless, quiet rest in the presence of the One who loves us, this is called contemplation, contemplatio. We practice silence, letting go of our own words; this time simply enjoying the experience of being in the presence of God.

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