Lectio Divina is a quiet, meditative, life-changing way of reading scripture that allows us to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to us personally.
Our meetings last about 80 minutes and start with a short period of relaxation (usually accompanied by music) where we try to calm our minds and bodies. The leader then carefully reads aloud the gospel for the coming Sunday. There is then a couple of minutes of silence during which all present take onboard the main messages of the gospel, which is then read again out loud by other members of the group in sequence.
Once this has been done there is a period of about 20 minutes silence during which each member focuses on the parts of the gospel that spoke most to them. In the silence, we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us about the deeper meaning of the scripture and how we might apply it to our lives and in doing so grow closer to God. There is then half an hour or so of discussion where members of the group are free to share the things they learned from their meditation on the gospel. The meeting ends a short period of prayer. In Saint Wulstan's parish, Phil Ibbs (below) runs the Lectio Divina meetings.
Lectio Divina is an approach to reading scripture that gives us time to hear what God is saying to us. It is not really about bible-study. We will not be cross-checking references in other parts of the bible or holding debates about alternative opinions or interpretations.
When a member shares their insights with the group each member considers for themselves the points that have been raised. If they are meaningful for us we receive the blessing that comes with them, if not, we simply let them go.
Our meetings are in May Bank, at 7pm each Wednesday, and are led by Phyllis Ibbs. Anyone interested in joining the group should contact Phyl after Mass, or via the link below.
Lectio is an ancient practice that goes right back to the desert fathers of the second and third centuries of the church and was common practice even amongst literate lay Christians of the day. From an early time, it has been a fundamental part of monastic life and over the centuries it became increasingly restricted to religious orders. In recent years, while so many people have been examining new ways to develop their spiritual life, the technique of 'Lectio Divina' has been rediscovered.
This is, in fact, the normal method of practicing Lectio Divina. Group sessions were originally developed to help people in poorer countries where literacy levels and bible ownership were low.
SELECT the particular scriptures that you wish to use. You could use the readings of day, or you could just work your way through a particular book, from either testament, but whatever your choice the aim is not to reach a particular point by the end of the session, i.e. it would not be helpful to set yourself the task of reading one chapter a day. The exercise is not about covering ground, but being open to God.
RELAX: There are many methods and countless books suggesting relaxation methods. The following is just one suggestion! Sit comfortably, in silence, and fix the concentration on the top of your head and sense any feelings you have there. Then scan downwards and around the head sensing your forehead,cheeks, ears, neck, etc. Continue right down through the body to the toes. If you are feeling tired,try the process in reverse, i.e. starting with the feet and working upwards. When you have completed this, for a minute or so, concentrate on the feelings of your breath entering and leaving your nose.Any attempt to rush the relaxation process will effectively render it useless, so be prepared to take time over it.
READ: Do this slowly, pausing at the end of each section, verse, or even phrases within verses where you think you have observed something meaningful. Listen for the gentle interior voice of the Holy Spirit interpreting the scripture to you and showing you what it might mean for your life in the here and now. Do not expect anything dramatic to happen: no flashes of lightning, no angels appearing before us, etc! God is speaking to us all the time, but normally we cannot hear because of the din caused by external circumstances and our own thoughts.
MEDITATE: As soon as you have found something meaningful and you feel prompted by the Spirit, stop reading. Listen to what God is telling you. Very often, the scripture will challenge your ways of thinking and acting. Even if you do not feel God has told you anything directly, if you think about the idea that caused you to stop, eventually, you are likely to gain some insight that calls for 'action' on your side. Try turning this into a resolution, which can be expressed as a simple phrase. Focus on this phrase and repeat it to yourself internally several times. During the meditation, it is highly likely that you mind will stray onto totally different things connected with your ordinary daily life and troubles. When this happens, do not feel that you have failed or start mentally chastising yourself, simply return to the original topic. If you feel you are not getting anywhere .
COMMUNICATE: At various points during your meditation, you may want to ask God something. As soon as this happens, just ask! Or, it may be that in the silence you simply become aware of a particular thing that you want to bring before God: Just do it, open your heart to Him. The more we can talk to God as though he was sat right next to us, the closer to reality we become and the more likely it is that we will hear his reply.
RETURN: During the course of your 'Lectio' the lengths of sessions of meditation and communication will vary a lot. Some may only last for several seconds, while others last for several minutes. Whatever the case, there will come a point when you will either return to the scripture, if you feel you should continue, or finish the session. Remember, there are no fixed goals at stake here. It may be that there is just one thing God wants to show you in a particular session. You are not in training for the Olympics and there is no need to complete an extra lap to build up your muscle tone!
FINISH: When you feel you have come to the end of the session, it may be a good idea to just spend a minute or two in silence, perhaps repeating the breathing exercise described earlier, or a simple prayer.
Before his death, Tom, who was one of our group, provided us with an excellent introductory guide to Lectio Divina, stressing the great benefits to be found in adopting this meditative approach to reading the scriptures.
Click here to download the PDF version of the guide .
Page maintained by Phyl Ibbs and Paul Swinhoe
Specific news relating to Lectio Divina will appear here from time to time.