Electronic Prayer Book

Lectio Divina*


(Based, with permission, on the “Oblate Rule of the Camaldolese Benedictine monks”)
*Pronounced “Lek-see-oh Div-ee-na


Lectio Divina (divine or holy reading) is a principal practice of Benedictine spirituality. True to its Biblical origins, the monastic life seeks above all a listening heart wherein God’s Word, God’s self­ communication, is made manifest in Christ, in the scriptures, in the human heart and in the heart of the cosmos.

Lectio Divina is a method of approaching scripture in order to listen to the depths, seeking to encounter Christ, the Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit, hidden in the words of the text. The approach is suited to all personality types and is beneficial for individuals as well as for adaptation to group or family settings. Christians of all denominations can use it.

Ultimately it can be said that the goal of Lectio is an ever expanding capacity to listen with the heart to the word of God in all of life’s situations, leading to a more constant awareness of God’s presence. It is listening as a communion not so much for a particular message but for the nearness of the living God. It is therefore a listening that leads to a new way of seeing. In this sense the faithful practice of Lectio undergirds our entire life of prayer, work, and communion with others.

The traditional method for Lectio Divina is fourfold: (using the Latin names).

1. Lectio: Reading

The repeated reading of the text until certain words and phrases call for attention. Sometimes footnotes in a good study bible (for example, the Douai or Knox Bible) as well as cross references help here. This stage has often been compared to taking in food, as the first “eating” of the word of scripture.

2. Meditatio: Meditation

The further “chewing” or ruminating on key words and phrases. One stays as long as one is so attracted to a word or phrase. At this stage the heart of the text for the reader should begin to emerge.

3. Oratio: Prayer

These key words and phrases of the text eventually lead the person to prayer inspired by the text and a growing awareness of God’s presence in Christ by the Holy Spirit. This is the deep tasting of the text.

4. Contemplatio: Contemplation

Eventually the particular words of the text lead the reader beyond words to silent awareness of God’s presence-simply an abiding or communing with God. This is the savouring of the sweetness of the Lord.

Lectio is also enhanced when one does scripture study and learns to consult good commentaries to support his or her reading. In this way the subtle nuances of a text will be more available to the reader. One should try to do lectio as often as possible but at least once a week in preparation for Sunday worship, using the readings for that Sunday.