PRAYING WITH SCRIPTURE
“The Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.” (Acts 10:44).
Even while we are preoccupied with family, work and leisure, Jesus cries out to us: “Seek first the Kingdomof Godand his righteousness” (Mt 6: 33). Jesus says that all these concerns and needs we worry about and put before God will be provided for by Him if only we put Him first in our lives (Mt 6: 31-34).
The late Pope John Paul II further emphasized further emphasized: “There is no doubt that this primacy of holiness and prayer is inconceivable without a renewed listening to the Word of God…It is especially necessary that listening to the Word of God should become a life-giving encounter, in the ancient and ever valid tradition of Lectio Divina, which draws from the biblical text the living word which questions, directs, and shapes our lives” (Novo Millennio Ineunte #39).
Moreover, the Second Vatican Council asserted that God’s powerful word is the source of spiritual life: “For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets his children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it remains the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for its sons, the food of the soul, the pure and perennial source of spiritual life” (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation #21).
Jesus himself declared, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (Jn 6: 63). “One does not live by bread alone, “he says, “but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” (Mt 4: 4). The spiritual nourishment that we assimilate from the word of God gives us the highest life, the life of the spirit (Jn 4: 24), far superior to the natural life. Jesus said, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail” (Jn 6: 63). “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10: 10). That life is a participation in the eternal life of God, already begun on earth. Jesus urges us: “Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of man will give you” (Jn 6: 27).
We are being invited to live in a higher realm than the mere natural life. Ours is a human/divine life. This eternal life already begun is a sharing in God’s own life. St. Johnexplains that it consists in sharing the divine life in such a way that we actually come to know God personally by participating in his very being (Jn 17: 3; 1 Jn 3: 2). This is the “life-giving encounter” that Pope John Paull II said would take place through Lectio Divina. This “ancient and ever valid tradition” of considering the Holy Scriptures stirs faith, connects us to God, and draws spiritual nourishment. (Rom 10: 17).
Begin with a Preparatory Prayer
My dearest Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:
You invite me to come to you (Mt 11: 28). You desire me to be in your company (Mk 3: 13-14) as your intimate friend (Jn 15: 15). I know I am not worthy of this sublime privilege. Please purify my heart from any sinfulness. I rejoice to enter into your Indwelling Presence through faith (Jn 14: 23; Eph 2: 18; 3: 12). I come to sit at your feet, look upon you with love, and listen to your life-giving word (Lk 10: 39). That word is the power of God, revealing your righteousness for our salvation. (Rom 1: 16-17).
Please help me to be attentive. Open my heart to the outpouring of your Spirit (Acts 10: 44). Open my mind to the understanding of the Scriptures (Lk 24: 45). Allow me to penetrate their inner meaning so I can be nourished, vivified and rejuvenated by them (Mt 4: 4; Jn 10: 10).
I am deaf: help me to hear (Mt 15: 30). I am blind: help me to see (Jn 9; Mt 20: 34).
Mary, our Mother, (Jn 19: 26-27), I pray that you will intercede for me that I may be obedient to God’s word and will—the way you were (Lk1: 38). Amen.
Praying with Scripture: Lectio Divina
To find the readings for the upcoming Sunday, either read them from your Sunday missalette at Church, or if you have Internet access, type www.comelordjesus.com, click on the “Spiritual Growth” Tab and scroll down to the “Today’s Readings”. Choose from the calendar on the bottom left, which Sunday Reading you are interested in, or go to the “Gospel Explained” section to find commentaries written on the upcoming Sunday Readings.
Lectio: Readthe Scripture passage slowly and attentively. Pause after each word, phrase, or sentence that strikes you.
Meditatio:Meditateon the words that nourish you. (Lk 1: 19; 2: 51). Consult Bible footnotes and commentaries.
Oratio:Pray over your reflections; express your needs to Jesus who dwells in you with the Father and the Holy Spirit. (Jn 14: 15-17, 23).
Contemplatio:Contemplate God’s loving presence and self-revelation by looking upon Him with love. Listen to Him in the depths of your heart as you cherish the truths you are considering. Remain lovingly attentive to Him as long as His grace sustains you. Repeat the Lectio Divina process.
At the end of Lectio Divina, write on an index card the words, phrases, or sentences that strike and nourish you, along with the Scripture reference. “Hold on to the word of life” (Phil 2: 16). Keep this fruit of your prayer with you in a prominent place to reflect upon, memorize, and present and discuss with others.
For Come, Lord Jesus! Members: For those meeting in a regular Come, Lord Jesus! group, bring your index card to your meeting to discuss with your group during Question #1. Tell how you used your Lectio phrase(s) to witness your faith during Step #6 and how you got others to practice Lectio Divina.
For Use in Family and School: At the beginning of the week, family members or students use Lectio Divina to find the words, phrases, or sentences that strike them and write the words or passage on an index card, along with the Scripture reference. At the end of the week, they all come together to share the fruit of their reflection as a preparation for Sunday Mass.
Suggestions for Incorporating Scripture into Your Daily Life
*Immediately when you wake in the morning, ask God for the grace to have those chosen words of Scripture come alive for you during your day.
*Type or print the words or verse you have selected and post it in a place that you frequent throughout the day, i.e., on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, near your computer, on your desk, in your pocket or purse (Deut 6: 6-9).
*Older family members can incorporate their selected verse within the grace before meals. For example, the member might add “and help us all to love our neighbor as ourselves”…if “Love your neighbor as yourself” was the selectedLectio phrase for the week’s reflection.
Ways to Introduce Lectio Divina to Others
*Bring extra copies of this leaflet wherever you go. Show others how to use it when you visit with them: friends, relatives, neighbors, shut-ins, the sick, nursing home residents, coworkers, CCD teachers, deacons, and priests…