Friday, August 27, 2010

How to practice Lectio Divnina

How to Practice Lectio Divina

  • Choose a text of the Scriptures  that you wish to pray. Many Christians use in their daily lectio divina one of the readings from the eucharistic liturgy for the day others prefer to slowly work through a particular book of the Bible. It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as one has no set goal of "covering" a certain amount of text. The amount of text covered is in God's hands, not yours.

  • Place yourself in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent. Some Christians focus for a few moments on their breathing; others have a beloved "prayer word" or "prayer phrase" they gently recite.. For some, the practice known as "centering" makes a good, brief introduction to lectio divina. Use whatever method is best for you and allow yourself to enjoy silence for a few moments.

  • Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the "still, small voice" of a word or phrase that somehow says, "I am for you today." Do not expect lightning or ecstasies. In lectio divina, God is teaching us to listen to him, to seek him in silence. He does not reach out and grab us; rather, he gently invites us ever more deeply into his presence.

  • Take the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories, and ideas. Do not be afraid of distractions. Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself that, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.

  • Speak to God. Whether you use words, ideas, or images--or all three--is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. And give to him what you have discovered during your experience of meditations Experience God by using the word or phrase he has given you as a means of blessing and of transforming the ideas and memories that your reflection on his word has awakened. Give to God what you have found within your heart.

  • Rest in God's embrace. And when he invites you to return to your contemplation of his word or to your inner dialogue with him, do so. Learn to use words when words are helpful, and to let go of words when they no longer are necessary. Rejoice in the knowledge that God is with you in both words and silence, in spiritual activity and inner receptivity.

    Sometimes in lectio divina, you may return several times to the printed text, either to savor the literary context of the word or phrase that God has given or to seek a new word or phrase to ponder. At other times, only a single word or phrase will fill the whole time set aside for lectio divina. It is not necessary to assess anxiously the quality of your lectio divina, as if you were "performing" or seeking some goal. Lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.

  • from several sources

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Simone Weil (1909 –1943)

    Simone Weil was a teacher, resistance fighter, factory worker, labor organizer, anarchist, Christian  philosopher, social  activist, whose death in 1943 was hastened by starvation. During her lifetime Weil  published only a few poems and articles. With the publication of her posthumous works - 16 volumes, edited by André A. Devaux and Florence de Lussy - Weil has earned a reputation as one of the most original thinkers of her era. T.S. Eliot described her as "a woman of genius, of a kind of genius akin to that of the saints."
    "What a country calls its vital economic interests are not the things which enable its citizens to live, but the things which enable it to make war. Gasoline is much more likely than wheat to be a cause of international conflict." (from The Need for Roots, 1949)
    Weil was born in Paris on Febuary 9th 1909 to agnostic Jewish parents who fled Germany. She grew up in comfortable circumstances, as her father was a doctor. She suffered throughout her life from severe headaches, sinusitis, and poor physical coordination, . Her brilliance, ascetic lifestyle, introversion, and eccentricity limited her ability to mix with others, but not to teach and participate in political movements of her time.

    Weil had an insatiable  appietie  for learning. Proficient in ancient Greek by the age of 12, she later learned Sanskrit after reading the Bagavigitta.

    In her teens she studied under the tutelage of her admired teacher Emile Chartier. During these years Weil attracted much attention with her radical opinions. She was called the "Red virgin". Even Chartier refered to her as "The Martian"

    At the École Normale Supérieure she studied philosophy, receiving her  diploma in 1931. Weil taught philosophy at a secondary school for girls in Le Puy. Teaching was her primary employment during her short life.

    Weil often took action out of sympathy with the working class.. At the age of six years she refused sugar in solidarity with the troops entrenched along the Western Front. While teaching in Le Puy, she became involved in local political activity, supporting the unemployed and striking worker. 

    She participated in the French general strike  of 1933, called to protest unemployment and wage cuts. The following year she took a 12-month leave of absence from her teaching position to work incognito as a laborer in two factories, one owned by Renault, believing that this experience would allow her to connect with the working class. Her poor health and inadequate physical strength forced her to quit after just a few  months.  In 1935 she resumed teaching, and donated most of her income to political causes and charitable endeavors.

    In 1936, despite her pacifism , she fought in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side.She identified herself as an anarchist. After being burned over a cooking fire, she left Spain to recuperate in Assisi where she continued to write essays on justice and peace issues..

    While in Assisi in the spring of 1937, she experienced a religious ecstasy  in the same church in which Francis  had prayed, which led her to pray for the first time in her life. She had another, more powerful, mystic experience a year later (1938) and from that point on on, her writings became more mystical and spiritual, while still retaining their focus on social and political issues. She was attracted to Roman Catholicism , yet declined to be baptized; she explains this refusal in Waiting for God. During World War Two, she lived for a time in Marseille, receiving spiritual direction from a Dominican friar.

    In 1942, she traveled to the USA, living briefly in New York City, in Harlem, amongst the poor.

    After New York, she traveled to London, where she joined the French Resistance. Her work regigme took a heavy toll on her frail body. In 1943 she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Instructed to rest and eat well, she refused. Instead, she limited her food intake to what she believed residents occupied France were eating.  Her condition quickly deteriorated, and after a lifetime of battling illness and frailty, Weil died in August 1943 from cardiac failure at the age of 34.

    compiled from serveral sources

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    pacaficsim and non violence (4)

     The Church Fathers  on Non Violence and Pacificism

    Irenaeus, Proof of the Apostolic Preaching 96
    Nor an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, for him who counts no man his enemy, but all his neighbors, and therefore can never stretch out his hand for vengeance.

    And when the Spirit of prophecy speaks as predicting things that are to come to pass, He speaks in this way: "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."(12) And that it did so come to pass, we can convince you. For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God; and we who formerly used to murder one another do not only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ. For that saying, "The tongue has sworn but the mind is unsworn,"(1) might be imitated by us in this matter. But if the soldiers enrolled by you, and who have taken the military oath, prefer their allegiance to their own life, and parents, and country, and all kindred, though you can offer them nothing incorruptible, it were verily ridiculous if we, who earnestly long for incorruption, should not endure all things, in order to obtain what we desire from Him who is able to grant it.

    Ambrose, On the Duties of Clergy 3.4.27
    27. Some ask(4) whether a wise man ought in case of a shipwreck to take away a plank from an ignorant sailor? Although it seems better for the common good that a wise man rather than a fool should escape from shipwreck, yet I do not think that a Christian, a just and a wise man, ought to save his own life by the death of another; just as when he meets with an armed robber he cannot return his blows, lest in defending his life he should stain his love toward his neighbour. The verdict on this is plain and clear in the books of the Gospel. "Put up thy sword, for every one that taketh the sword shall perish with the sword. "(5) What robber is more hateful than the persecutor who came to kill Christ? But Christ would not be defended from the wounds of the persecutor, for He willed to heal all by His wounds.

    Arnobius, Against the Pagans Book 1.6
    6. Although you allege that those wars which you speak of were excited through hatred of our religion, it would not be difficult to prove, that after the name of Christ was heard in the world, not only were they not increased, but they were even in great measure diminished by the restraining of furious passions. For since we, a numerous band of men as we are, have learned from His teaching and His laws that evil ought not to be requited with evil, that it is better to suffer wrong than to inflict it, that we should rather shed our own blood than stain our hands and our conscience with that of another, an ungrateful world is now for a long period enjoying a benefit from Christ, inasmuch as by His means the rage of savage ferocity has been softened, and has begun to withhold hostile hands from the blood of a fellow-creature. But if all without exception, who feel that they are men not in form of body but in power of reason, would lend an ear for a little to His salutary and peaceful rules, and would not, in the pride and arrogance of enlightenment, trust to their own senses rather than to His admonitions, the whole world, having turned the use of steel into more peaceful occupations, would now be living in the most placid tranquillity, and would unite in blessed harmony, maintaining inviolate the sanctity of treaties.

    Canons of Hippolytus 14 (Ethiopian)
    14. That it is not right for Christians to bear arms.

    Tertullian, On the Crown (De Corona) 11 Chapter XI.
    To begin with the real ground of the military crown, I think we must first inquire whether warfare is proper at all for Christians. What sense is there in discussing the merely accidental, when that on which it rests is to be condemned? Do we believe it lawful for a human oath38 to be superadded to one divine, for a man to come under promise to another master after Christ, and to abjure father, mother, and all nearest kinsfolk, whom even the law has commanded us to honour and love next to God Himself, to whom the gospel, too, holding them only of less account than Christ, has in like manner rendered honour? Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law? And shall he apply the chain, and the prison, and the torture, and the punishment, who is not the avenger even of his own wrongs? Shall he, forsooth, either keep watch-service for others more than for Christ, or shall he do it on the Lord's day, when he does not even do it for Christ Himself? And shall he keep guard before the temples which he has renounced? And shall he take a meal where the apostle has forbidden him?39 And shall he diligently protect by night those whom in the day-time he has put to flight by his exorcisms, leaning and resting on the spear the while with which Christ's side was pierced? Shall he carry a flag,40 too, hostile to Christ? And shall he ask a watchword from the emperor who has already received one from God? Shall he be disturbed in death by the trumpet of the trumpeter, who expects to be aroused by the angel's trump? And shall the Christian be burned according to camp rule, when he was not permitted to burn incense to an idol, when to him Christ remitted the punishment of fire? Then how many other offences there are involved in the performances of camp offices, which we must hold to involve a transgression of God's law, you may see by a slight survey. The very carrying of the name over from the camp of light to the camp of darkness is a violation of it. Of course, if faith comes later, and finds any preoccupied with military service, their case is different, as in the instance of those whom John used to receive for baptism, and of those most faithful centurions, I mean the centurion whom Christ approves, and the centurion whom Peter instructs; yet, at the same time, when a man has become a believer, and faith has been sealed, there must be either an immediate abandonment of it, which has been the course with many; or all sorts of quibbling will have to be resorted to in order to avoid offending God, and that is not allowed even outside of military service;41 or, last of all, for God the fate must be endured which a citizen-faith has been no less ready to accept. Neither does military service hold out escape from punishment of sins, or exemption from martyrdom. Nowhere does the Christian change his character. There is one gospel, and the same Jesus, who will one day deny every one who denies, and acknowledge every one who acknowledges God,-who will save, too, the life which has been lost for His sake; but, on the other hand, destroy that which for gain has been saved to His dishonour. With Him the faithful citizen is a soldier, just as the faithful soldier is a citizen.42 A state of faith admits no plea of necessity; they are under no necessity to sin, whose one necessity is, that they do not sin. For if one is pressed to the offering of sacrifice and the sheer denial of Christ by the necessity of torture or of punishment, yet discipline does not connive even at that necessity; because there is a higher necessity to dread denying and to undergo martyrdom, than to escape from suffering, and to render the homage required. In fact, an excuse of this sort overturns the entire essence of our sacrament, removing even the obstacle to voluntary sins; for it will be possible also to maintain that inclination is a necessity, as involving in it, forsooth, a sort of compulsion. I have, in fact, disposed of this very allegation of necessity with reference to the pleas by which crowns connected with official position are vindicated, in support of which it is in common use, since for this very reason offices must be either refused, that we may not fall into acts of sin, or martyrdoms endured that we may get quit of offices. Touching this primary aspect of the question, as to the unlawfulness even of a military life itself, I shall not add more, that the secondary question may be restored to its place. Indeed, if, putting my strength to the question, I banish from us the military life, I should now to no purpose issue a challenge on the matter of the military crown.

    Cyprian, To Donatus 6
    Chapter 6But in order that the characteristics of the divine munificence may shine forth when the truth has been revealed, I shall give you light to recognize it, by wiping away the cloud of evil I shall reveal the darkness of a hidden world. For a little consider that you are being transported to the loftiest peak of a high mountain, that from this you are viewing the appearance of things that lie below you and with your eyes directed in different directions you yourself free from earthly contacts gaze upon the turmoils of the world. Presently you also will have pity on the world, and taking account of yourself and with more gratitude to God you will rejoice with greater joy that you have escaped from it. Observe the roads blocked by robbers, the seas beset by pirates, wars spread everywhere with the bloody horrors of camps. The world is soaked with mutual blood, and when individuals commit homicide, it is a crime; it is called a virtue when it is done in the name of the state. Impunity is acquired for crimes not by reason of innocence but by the magnitude of the cruelty.

    St. Paulinas of Nola, Letter 25 (To Crispanus)
    There is nothing, my blessed son, which can or ought to be preferred to Him who is the true Lord, the true Father, the eternal Commander. To whom is it right to devote our lives more than to Him from whom we received them, and for whom we must preserve them to the end, because we live by His kindness? If we have been a soldier for Him in this world, we shall then deserve to pass over to Him. But if we love this world more, and prefer to be a soldier for Caesar than for Christ, we shall later be transported not to Christ but to hell, where the cause of the princes of this world rests. So we ought not put loyalties or fatherland or distinctions or riches before God, for Scripture says"The fashion of this world passeth away"... Therefore do not any longer love this world or its military service, for Scripture's authority attests that whoever is a friend of this world is an enemy of God. He who is a soldier with the sword is the servant of death, and when he sheds his own blood or that of another, this is the reward for his service. He will be regarded as guilty of death either because of his own death or because of his sin because a soldier in a war, fighting not so much for himself as for another, is either conquered and killed, or conquers and wins a pretext for death--for he cannot be a victor unless he first sheds blood. So the Lord says: You cannot serve two masters, the one God and the one mammon, that is, Christ and Caesar, even though Caesar himself is now keen to be Christ's servant so that he may deserve kingship over a few peoples.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    a Rhythm of the Hours

    Vigils, or watching in the night, is celebrated in the middle of the night during which we meditate on salvation history as it unfolded down through the ages. The office of Vigils consists of a hymn, psalms, readings, both scriptural and patristic, and canticles suitable to the spirit of the midnight hour when one awaits the arrival of the Bridegroom (Mt 25:6; Mk 13:35). In monastic communities the concentration on vigilance began with this office which continues until lauds. Monastics spend this time enveloped in and supported by darkness and silence, in lectio divina, prayer and meditation.

    Lauds is celebrated at daybreak when the sun is dispelling the night and the new day is born. The Church has always considered the sun to be a symbol of Christ rising from the dead. This prayer is called Lauds because it is a laudatory liturgy of praise in the early morning light. We thank God for the first light at the beginning of creation and for the second light of our redemption in Christ’s paschal victory. It is a joyful, optimistic hour reflected by the hymn, psalms and canticles.

    Midday prayer, takes place when the sun is at its apex and one has become a bit weary and mindfulness is all but impossible. It is a time for earnest prayer to resist temptation, to keep from being overcome by the demands and pressures of life. Reminded of Christ being crucified at the sixth hour, we unite ourselves with Him. We are aware of failures and mistakes and pray for deep and abiding conversion even to the point of sacrifice.

    Vespers, celebrated at day’s end, takes on the character of evening. The day is almost over, our work is done. The golden evening light is like old, mature wine, and in some late summer and autumn days it is like gold, transfiguring our world and making it transparent for God. This is the hour of wise age, of resting in thanksgiving and humility after the struggles, successes and failures of the day and of a productive life.

    Compline comes from the Latin which means to complete. It is the last prayer before retiring for the night, we pray it privately. It marks the completion of our day and heralds life’s end. It leads back into the darkness of the night. This is the darkness of God’s mysterious presence, the abyss of mercy into which God lets us fall. Compline may be understood as a daily exercise in the art of dying. For what is sleep if not a little rehearsal for death? But it is a death that ends in the fullness of life and light. The core of this hour is the song of old Simeon on the threshold of death: “Now Lord, you will let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your saving deed which you have set before all: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).  

    from a number of sources

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    What is Lectio Divina

    "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." -- St. Jerome, A.D. 340-420

    "To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches."-- St. John Chrysostom, A.D. 347-407

    "The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New" -- St. Augustine, A.D. 354-430

    "All troubles of the Church, all the evils in the world, flow from this source: that men do not by clear and sound knowledge and serious consideration penetrate into the truths of Sacred Scripture." -- attributed to St. Theresa of Avila, A.D. 1515-1582

    Lectio Divina (pronounced "Lec-tee-oh Di-vee-nah") Latin for "divine reading,"  refers specifically to a very ancient  method of Scripture reading practiced by followers of christ particularly monastics since the beginning of the Church. Lectio Divina  represents a slow, contemplative method of prayer and scripture reading intended to promote communion with God. The principles of lectio divina were expressed around the year A.D. 220 and encouraged by the church fathers, and early monastics particularly in the rules of Pachomius, Augustine, Basil, and Benedict. The early centrality of reading of Sacred Scripture, and then meditating and praying over its meaning, is evident in the 48th chapter of St Benedect's Rule (A.D. 480-453), written  to guide monastic life.

    This ancient practice has been kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, and is one of the precious treasures of Benedictine monastics and oblates. Together with the Liturgy, the hours, manual labor, lectio divina is part of the underlying spiritual rhythm of  monastic life.

      It was an 11th century Carthusian prior named Guigo who formalized Lectio Divina, describing the method in a letter written to a fellow monk. This letter, which has become known as Scala Paradisi
      -- the Stairway to Heaven -- describes a 4-runged ladder to Heaven, each rung being one of the four steps in his method of Bible reading. Those steps, and Guigo's brief descriptions of them, are:
    Lectio - Reading the Bible passage gently and slowly several times. The passage itself is not as important as the savoring of each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the "still, small voice" of a word or phrase that somehow speaks to the practitioner.

    Meditatio - Reflecting on the text of the passage and thinking about how it applies to one's own life. This is considered to be a very personal reading of the Scripture and very personal application.

    Oratio – Responding to the passage by opening the heart to God. This is not primarily an intellectual exercise, but is thought to be more of the beginning of a conversation with God.

    Contemplatio - Listening to God. This is a freeing of oneself from one's own thoughts, both mundane and holy, and hearing God talk to us. Opening the mind, heart, and soul to the influence of God.

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Desert Wisdom (6)

    A brother in Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which Abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to him, saying, "Come, for everyone is waiting for you". So he got up and went. He took a sack, filled it with sand and cut a small hole at the bottom and carried it on his shoulders. The others came out to meet him and said, "What is this, father" The Abba said to them, "My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another" When they heard that, they said no more to the brother but forgave him.