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 follow three elements that would guide them. These elements included 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.
First I’ll describe Lectio. 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 (including television, mp3 player/radio ect). They should also 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 feelings that arise while reading 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. It is also good to take notes on what you have received from the text.
[i] Tony Jones, The Sacred Way(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005) 49.
[ii] Tony Jones, The Sacred Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005) 50.
[iii] Tony Jones, The Sacred Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005) 51.
[iv] Tony Jones, The Sacred Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005) 53.