A spiritual rule will enable you to approach your spiritual growth systematically. Because the rule is outlined and specific you will be able to measure and chart your growth. You will also be able to pinpoint areas that need improvement as well as spiritual areas where you excel. The spiritual disciplines I have studied and will discuss are as follows: Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer, Fasting, Prayer Walking, Centering Prayer, Spiritual Friendship, Examine and Journaling. Below is a brief explanation of the highlighted spiritual discipline.
Lectio Divina can be defined as reading holy or sacred. Lectio Divina can be traced back to the early Desert Dwellers but it was actually St Benedict “who cemented the practice in Western Monasticism.”[i] Benedict who is known for establishing monasteries expressed in his book The Rule of St Benedict, that monks were to keep follow three elements that would guide them, they were their prayer, work and lectio divina. Later, lectio divina was articulated further by Guigo II in his book Scala Caustralium. Here Guigo outlined four spiritual steps which included Reading (Lectio), Meditation (Meditation), Prayer (Oratio), and Contemplation (Contemplatio).[ii] These steps have been the foundation ever since.
The Lectio consist of choosing a scripture from a version of the bible that is understandable for the practitioner, the reader must make a conscience effort to read slowly also doing it in a setting where they can limit all distractions, they should stay away from Bibles that have any written notes or highlights.[iii] Next the practitioner can move towards Meditatio. This deals with meditating on the feeling that arise while you have read the text. Oratio or prayer follows the meditation. In prayer God is petitioned to give us clarification or the meaning of the text we have selected to read sacredly. Finally we move to Contemplation which involves a “mystical union with Christ”[iv], this moment contains complete silence and peace. Here is where we let the spirit speak to us about the text.
Practicing Lectio Divina:
- Choose a scripture(lectio)
- Read it slowly with limited distraction
- Meditate on the text (meditatio)
- Notice what feelings arise
- Pray for meaning or clarification of the text (oratio)
- Be in complete silence and let the spirit speak (contemplatio)