Just three weeks into our 40 days and I’m already feeling behind. Well, regardless, I’m thankful for the pause this season offers me.
For the last 5 years I have made a private retreat during Lent. This year I find myself with the Holy Cross Sisters. They have a lovely convent and retreat house in Ventura, California. You can find a link to their Siena Prayer Center on my resources page.
Once a week one of the sisters invite the community to practice Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina, I was fortunate enough to have joined them a few nights ago.
If you’ve never practiced the Centering Prayer, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is similar to the eastern practice of meditation, except where the eastern practice is to become centered by emptying yourself and focusing on nothing but your breathing, the Christian tradition, helps you become centered by emptying yourself and focusing on being in God’s presence.
So often in our prayers we ask God to be with us. When truly, he is always with us, we just forget, or we don’t “feel” his presence. The Centering Prayer gives you an opportunity to practice your awareness of his presence. If you missed my post about it, you can read it here.
The Holy Cross Sisters take this a step further and follow their Centering Prayer practice with a group session of Lectio Divina. (Latin for “Divine Reading”) I enjoy group Lectio because I am able to listen to how God uses the same passage to meet numerous people right where they are, and last week was no different. Sr. Gloria Valdovinos skillfully lead us through group Lectio with the passage of the Prodigal Son.
The practice of Lectio Divina is a simple, intentional reading of a sacred passage. Traditionally there are four stages: Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio, and Contemplatio. In English, you might say: Reading, Ruminating, Response, and Rest.
For me there is a physical movement of the passage; it enters into my being through my eyes, LECTIO – reading. It moves into my mind for mediation – MEDITATIO. God allows something in the passage to touch my life, and I develop a verbal response to the passage, ORATIO – prayer. Finally, I give the passage rest in my heart, CONTEPLATIO – contemplation.
An ancient practice, Lectio Divina has its roots in the Benedictine tradition. Although practiced by the Holy Cross Sisters as a group exercise, it is usually worked as an individual spiritual practice.
I thought during Lent you might be interested in learning more about it and giving it a try, so I’ve put together some information on it. Click here and I’ll send it off to you. The information is borrowed, with permission from Fr. Luke Dysinger, OSB, of Saint Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, California.
I also have curated some resources for Group Lectio Divina. If you would like these resources for use in your own church or small group, drop me and an email and I’ll get them off to you. firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you are having a fruitful Lent.