Lectio Divina and Ancient/Future Bible Study

February 6, 2013

The art and practice of Lectio Divina has piqued my interest lately.

I began reading a book about this and the form of study called Ancient/Future Bible Study.

It is the practice of reading and studying ancient texts to not only regain insight from Holy texts of old, but to integrate it into our modern age and future world.

It is, or should be more than just an ideal or form of study but also a movement to connect with the divine in all of life in us and around us. It is awakening and connecting with God’s presence. Lectio Divina means in the best translation “divine reading” or “sacred reading”.

It is the art of connecting with the Holy Spirit, or God’s ‘breath’, by “listening with the ear of our heart” as St. Benedict said it. By being still and listening we can understand sacred wisdom and experience profound spiritual growth.

There are five ways to experience and express Lectio Divina. These ways are not rigid or step-by-step, but overlap each other and flow depending on each person.

The first step is Lectio (LEK-tsee-oh).It is the listening deeply to what we are reading (or seeing, feeling, experiencing)
as if we are doing it for the first time. Its creating the space and time to pause and deeply try to understand something.

The next is Meditatio (meh-dih-TAH-tsee-oh), which is meditation or reflection of what we are trying to understand or feel. When we meditate on something we initially begin letting it soak in us, allowing ourselves to ‘sit with it’ and really feel it.

The next one is called Oratio (oh-RAH-tsee-oh) which is responding to God from what you receive by the listening and reflecting through prayer. Oratio is praying or using our voice to communicate in any way (such as praise, thanksgiving, or even questions) to God.

Which brings us to the next one which is another form of prayer called Contemplatio (con-tem-PLAH-tsee-oh). Contemplatio is prayer without words. It is allowing our spirits to bask in God’s presence, being with him in a way that words cannot express. It is the voice of our spirit reaching out to God and connecting with His divinity, and in turn connecting with our own.

The last one is called Operatio (oh-peh-RAH-tsee-oh) and it is best described as our actions and service to God in our lives. We can express Operatio easiest after gleaning what we have learned through the other forms of Lectio Divina. Knowledge and wisdom are useless without acting upon them and through Operatio we show our faith in the steps that we walk in life.

Lectio Divina is also comprised of many movements but they are all parts of each other and not necessarily meant to be separated. The movements in Ancient/Future Bible Study are studium (study), cogitatio (reflection), consolatio (comfort), discretio (discernment), deliberatio (decision-making), compassio (compassion), and actio (action).

My final thoughts on Lectio DIvina (or as final as this writing goes): I feel that using these ways of understanding spirituality go beyond just reading sacred texts. Divine Spirit is everywhere waiting to be noticed completely- all around us and inside us. God is in everything and everyone. God IS everything and everyone. It takes our attention and stillness and our unique expression to see the beauty in all of life.

Above all though, it all comes down to Love.

For more information and to read the same book that inspired me to write this read : Peter (Ancient-Future Bible Study) by Stephen J. Binz