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LECTIO DIVINA

We monks of Assumption Abbey (and our oblates) practice a prayerful use of

Scripture called Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading). In a fast paced, sound bite world, it

requires real discipline, a concerted effort, to slow down. It is said that “familiarity

breeds contempt” and this can be true even in our relationship to the Holy

Scriptures. We grow familiar with them to the extent that they may fail to fascinate

us, jar us, shake us up, as they might a first-time reader. Thus we must slow down.

We must read them again, as if for the first time. We must set aside our assumed

competence and read again. The ancients crafted a practice described in four

steps, which might be rendered in English as Reading, Pondering, Praying and

Contemplating. Any person may discover fresh love for the Scriptures with this

method called Lectio Divina. Open your Bible to any page of the Gospels, and let

us try the steps of Lectio Divina, Sacred Reading.

Reading (Latin, lectio): Read a paragraph or two, slowly. Read it again. Read it a

third time. You might read from a less familiar translation, even a non-English

translation if you are multi-lingual. Take time to let the words soak in. See the

people, their garb, their actions. Ask God to open your eyes to this bit of Scripture

in new ways. What does the text say?

Pondering (Latin, meditatio): Close your eyes and ponder what you just saw and

heard. Do you sympathize with any particular character? Have you been in their

shoes? Do you have faith (or doubts) as they do? How do you encounter Jesus in

the text? Is he reassuring you? Chiding you? What does the text say to you?

Praying (Latin, oratio): Respond to Jesus in prayer. Let yourself be moved to

greater faith, to greater trust, greater detachment. Is your habitual form of prayer

weighted on the side of petitioning? Perhaps this praying with Scripture, called

Lectio Divina, may help you balance your petitioning prayers with prayers of

repentance, of gratitude, of praise.

What do you say to God?

[At this point it should be noted the steps of Lectio Divina are not strictly linear.

One need not always spend the first couple of minutes Reading, the next minutes

Pondering, then some minutes Praying. The steps have a logical order. They are a

good guide. But the Spirit blows where it wills.]

Contemplating (Latin, contemplatio): According to centuries-old monastic

tradition, humans practice the first three steps (above) with the help of God’s

grace. This fourth step, say the spiritual masters, occurs as God quite takes over.

This step, as the culmination of Lectio Divina, is beyond us, but may be given as

gift by God, when God so moves. The most we can do is be well disposed to let

God so move. This kind of contemplation is termed “infused contemplation,” to

distinguish it from the kind of meditating we did in step two above. We should not

get the impression, however, that such contemplation need be rare, a grace

experienced by only a few. Have you ever seen a dawn or dusk beautiful beyond

words? What did you do? You gave it time, steeped in it, soaked it in. Be open to

such “soaking” as you approach the close of your prayer time with the Scriptures.

What does God will to do in you?

Assumption Abbey

Oblates

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We monks of Assumption Abbey (and our oblates) practice a prayerful use of

Scripture called Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading). In a fast paced, sound bite world, it

requires real discipline, a concerted effort, to slow down. It is said that “familiarity

breeds contempt” and this can be true even in our relationship to the Holy

Scriptures. We grow familiar with them to the extent that they may fail to fascinate

us, jar us, shake us up, as they might a first-time reader. Thus we must slow down.

We must read them again, as if for the first time. We must set aside our assumed

competence and read again. The ancients crafted a practice described in four

steps, which might be rendered in English as Reading, Pondering, Praying and

Contemplating. Any person may discover fresh love for the Scriptures with this

method called Lectio Divina. Open your Bible to any page of the Gospels, and let

Reading (Latin, lectio): Read a paragraph or two, slowly. Read it again. Read it a

third time. You might read from a less familiar translation, even a non-English

translation if you are multi-lingual. Take time to let the words soak in. See the

people, their garb, their actions. Ask God to open your eyes to this bit of Scripture

Pondering (Latin, meditatio): Close your eyes and ponder what you just saw and

heard. Do you sympathize with any particular character? Have you been in their

shoes? Do you have faith (or doubts) as they do? How do you encounter Jesus in

the text? Is he reassuring you? Chiding you?

Praying (Latin, oratio): Respond to Jesus in prayer. Let yourself be moved to

greater faith, to greater trust, greater detachment. Is your habitual form of prayer

weighted on the side of petitioning? Perhaps this praying with Scripture, called

Lectio Divina, may help you balance your petitioning prayers with prayers of

[At this point it should be noted the steps of Lectio Divina are not strictly linear.

One need not always spend the first couple of minutes Reading, the next minutes

Pondering, then some minutes Praying. The steps have a logical order. They are a

tradition, humans practice the first three steps (above) with the help of God’s

grace. This fourth step, say the spiritual masters, occurs as God quite takes over.

This step, as the culmination of Lectio Divina, is beyond us, but may be given as

gift by God, when God so moves. The most we can do is be well disposed to let

God so move. This kind of contemplation is termed “infused contemplation,” to

distinguish it from the kind of meditating we did in step two above. We should not

get the impression, however, that such contemplation need be rare, a grace

experienced by only a few. Have you ever seen a dawn or dusk beautiful beyond

words? What did you do? You gave it time, steeped in it, soaked it in. Be open to

such “soaking” as you approach the close of your prayer time with the Scriptures.

Assumption Abbey

Email Oblate Director Email Oblate Director
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Phone (701) 974 3315 Address PO Box A Richardton, ND 58601