St Jerome tells us that "Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ". Such a stark exhortation coming from a monk, biblical scholar, Church Father and Doctor of the Church urges us all to recognise that serious Bible study is a necessity not an optional luxury. For Catholics in Ireland in particular, it is very much a case of rediscovering a lost tradition within our history to be able to read and reflect personally on scripture which is being encouraged more and more.
Regular listeners to the programme will know that most of the presenters and panelists that participate in the show participate in lectio divina. Many are members of the group of people who gather each Monday night in the Parish Centre in Newcastle West Co Limerick from 8.15pm to 9.15pm to participate in "lectio divina" where together we break open the Word and explore its meaning for our daily lives in this hectic and fast paced world of ours.
- Posts from the blog about lectio divina
- Accepting the Embrace of God: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina
- What is lectio divina? - by the Carmelites
- Introduction to Lectio Divina - A New Spiritual Springtime
- The Lectio Divina Homepage by Fr Richard McCambly OCSO
- An introduction to Lectio Divina by Paul Zalonski
- Lectio Divina - Benedictine resources
Prayer before reading and reflecting on Scripture
(by Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini S.J. - Archbishop Emeritus of Milan)
Lord, we thank you for putting us in the presence of your Word which you inspired in your prophets. May we approach this Word reverently, humbly and attentively. May we not despise this Word, but receive all it has to say to us.
We know that our hearts are closed, often incapable of comprehending the simplicity of your Word. Send your Spirit to us so that receiving the Word in truth and simplicity, our lives may be transformed by it.
Let us not be resistant, Lord; may your Word penetrate us like a two edged sword; may our hearts be open to it; let not our eyes be closed, nor our minds wander, but may we give ourselves entirely to this listening.
We ask this Father, in union with Mary who used to recite the psalms, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If you are considering purchasing a bible and are not sure where to start then we suggest you spend some time browsing the site of the National Bible Society of Ireland where they discuss how to choose which translation of the bible to suit your needs as well as giving some resources to help you begin enjoying your bible.
During an address in 2005, Benedict XVI reminded his listeners:
"We are grateful to God that in recent times, and thanks to the impact made by the Dogmatic Constitution "Dei Verbum" the fundamental importance of the Word of God has been deeply re-evaluated. From this has derived a renewal of the Church's life, especially in her preaching, catechises, theology and spirituality, and even in the ecumenical process. The Church must be constantly renewed and rejuvenated and the Word of God, which never ages and is never depleted, is a privileged means to achieve this goal. Indeed, it is the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, which always guides us to the whole truth (cf. John 16:13).
In this context, I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of "Lectio divina": "the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart" (cf. "Dei Verbum," n. 25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church -- I am convinced of it -- a new spiritual springtime.
As a strong point of biblical ministry, "Lectio divina" should therefore be increasingly encouraged, also through the use of new methods, carefully thought through and in step with the times. It should never be forgotten that the Word of God is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (cf. Psalm 119:105).The above talk was delivered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, on Sept. 16, 2005 to 400 participants in the international congress on "Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church." The Sept. 14-18 congress, in Rome, attracted 400 experts, including about 100 bishops. The initiative commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's dogmatic constitution on divine Revelation, "Dei Verbum."
SS102fm is based in Newcastle West in Co Limerick. As part of the preparations for the Limerick Diocesan Synod 2016 Bishop Brendan Leahy published a short guide/reflection called "Who leads the Church? - Extracts from the Acts of the Apostles" which takes people through the Acts of the Apostles praying using lectio divina. You can access the book, plus a short reflection for each extract and an example of lectio in progress at the Synod 2016 website.
Some books and websites which we have found useful over time to help you get started and also to engage and understand the texts of scripture:
- "Your Word is a Light for my steps - Lectio Divina" by Michel de Verteuil (available from Amazon.com)
- "Lectio Divina - Renewing the Ancient Practice of Praying the Scriptures" by M Basil Pennigton (available from Veritas)
- "Praying the Scriptures - A Practical Introduction to Lectio Divina" by Christopher Hayden (available from Amazon.com )
- "Lectio Divina with the Sunday Gospels" by Michel de Verteuil - there are three books in this series of books following the three year liturgical cycle of Sunday readings to help people with lectio divina with each book following a particular liturgical year (A = Year of St Matthew, B = Year of St Mark, C = Year of St Luke). The books are available from Veritas and Columba.
- 'Lectio Divina - Spiritual Reading of the Bible' by Jean Khoury (part of the Deeper Christianity Series by CTS)
- The lectio divina website maintained by St John's Abbey as a Benedictine online resource. Here and here.
- Sister Disciples of the Divine Master (PDDM's) have a section on their website given over to lectio
- Notes on the Sunday gospels available from Tarsus.ie which is a website of the Irish Augustinians
- Word on Web is another initiative of the Irish Augustinians and their team at the Orlagh Retreat Centre in Dublin which has an online introductory course to scripture.
If you don't wish or are unable to purchase online, why don't you see if your local bookseller can order a book for you? Click on the link above and get the publication information (ISBN Number, publisher etc) and your local bookshop should be able to locate a copy for you or enable you to check your local library to see if they have any of the books in stock.
Via Salt + Light tv in Canada, we have an interview with Cardinal Thomas Collins about lectio divina and how he leads people in his cathedral.
For those that may be interested in further, more in depth reading about scripture some online resources which may be useful:
- Biblical Resources from the theology.ie website maintained by the Irish Theological Society
- Catholic Church Documents relating to Biblical Studies an external site but with many good links and resources
- The Irish Biblical Association
- 'He explained the scripture to us' (Luke 24:32) - Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini's address to the 43rd Plenary Assembly of the Italian Bishops' Conference in May 1997
If you have any suggestions for other resources or would like to send us a reflection or piece for the blog about your experience of lectio divina please drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org