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Monk_Reading_Book_1Lectio Divina, or Holy Reading, is a wonderful, monastic contribution to spirituality. It combines two aspects of the threefold Benedictine life of Work, Prayer and Reading.

When we participate in Lectio Divina we pray and read. We read and pray. The essential idea is that we read the sacred Scriptures not critically or even to gather information, but so that the Word of God might be a bridge into the presence of God.

There are four stages to this devotional discipline which were first outlined in the twelfth century by a Carthusian monk named Guigo.

The first stage is leggere “Reading”. We use a short passage of Scripture and simply read it slowly. It is fine to use the gospel reading from Mass for the day or to use the Scripture passage from the Office of Readings or to work you way slowly through a particular book of the Bible.

Because we are so quick to speed read, some people use techniques to slow them down. Reading the passage out loud our mouthing the words slows your reading. Some people trace the words with their fingers on the page to slow down.

The second stage is meditare “Meditate”. In this stage we take time to ponder the passage explicitly–imagining what the scene was like, asking questions in our mind about the passage and ruminating on its message and how it might connect with our lives and our prayer intentions.

The third stage is pregare “Prayer”. Now we allow our hearts to turn to the Lord in prayer, prompted by the passage. If the passage is challenging to us we ask the Lord for further insights. If it prompts prayer requests or needs in our lives or those for whom we pray, we allow the passage to lead us into prayer.

The final stage is contemplare “Contemplation”. In this stage we open into the silence and stillness of God’s presence. We simply remain with him and he with us. In this way the truths of the Scripture penetrate and enter into the world beyond words. In contemplation the Word moves us beyond the words.