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Benedict XVI’s how-to of Lectio Divina

POPE BENEDICT XVI

OSSERVATORE ROMANO | AFP

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 11/27/22

If you're hoping to start praying with Scripture through Lectio Divina this season, here's a handy four-step summary of how to do it.

In his 2010 document Verbum Domini (Word of the Lord), Benedict XVI offered a review of the “basic steps” of Lectio Divina, the prayerful reading of Scripture.

Here is what he said:

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It opens with the reading (lectio) of a text, which leads to a desire to understand its true content: What does the biblical text say in itself? Without this, there is always a risk that the text will become a pretext for never moving beyond our own ideas.

Next comes meditation (meditatio), which asks: What does the biblical text say to us? Here, each person, individually but also as a member of the community, must let himself or herself be moved and challenged.

Following this comes prayer (oratio), which asks the question: What do we say to the Lord in response to his word? Prayer, as petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise, is the primary way by which the word transforms us.

Finally, lectio divina concludes with contemplation (contemplatio), during which we take up, as a gift from God, his own way of seeing and judging reality, and ask ourselves What conversion of mind, heart and life is the Lord asking of us?

… Contemplation aims at creating within us a truly wise and discerning vision of reality, as God sees it, and at forming within us “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor2:16).

The word of God appears here as a criterion for discernment: It is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). We do well also to remember that the process of lectio divina is not concluded until it arrives at action (actio), which moves the believer to make his or her life a gift for others in charity.

Tags:
Pope Benedict XVIPrayerScripture
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