Lectio Divina and the 11th Step for My Recovery

lectio divina 0One of my favorite forms of Catholic prayer is Lectio Divina. It’s one of the ways in which I practice the 11th Step in my recovery.

In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word. It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.

Traditionally Lectio Divina has four separate steps: read, meditate, pray and contemplate. First a passage of Scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected (meditation) upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God.

The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages, but rather viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning.

For example, given Jesus’ statement in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you,” an analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement during the Last Supper, the biblical context, etc. But in Lectio Divina rather than “dissecting peace”, the practitioner “enters peace” and shares in the peace of Christ.

lectio divina 2In Christian teachings, this form of meditative prayer leads to an increased knowledge of Christ.

The roots of Scriptural reflection and interpretation go back to the 3rd century, after whom St. Ambrose taught them to St. Augustine.

The monastic practice of Lectio Divina was first established in the 6th century by Saint Benedict. It was then formalized as a four step process by the Carthusian monk, Guigo II, in the 12th century. In the 20th century, the constitution Dei Verbum of Pope Paul VI recommended Lectio Divina for the general public.

lectio divinaAnd yay! Our wonderful Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of Lectio Divina in the 21st century.

I practice Lectio Divina—not daily, but definitely often-— in the mornings when I read the daily Mass readings at home in my prayer chair.  It’s one of a variety of ways I practice my 11th Step–“sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as I understand God.”

I appreciate so much how I can go anywhere in the world and feel at home in an AA meeting and in a Catholic Mass.

AA meetings all have basically the same format. I know what to expect; and I can attend in silence without having to talk to anybody or interact with them if I don’t want to.  I love this because sometimes, especially when I travel, if I had to share, or introduce myself, or communicate with others, I probably wouldn’t go as often as I need to.

Don’t get me wrong—I love my “home group” where I share often and reach out to others.  But sometimes I just want to take it all in all by myself.

And the Mass is the same all over the world everyday, too.  I don’t think people who aren’t Catholic know this?

When my family travels for beach trips or visits to relatives out-of-state, we always make a point to find the nearest Catholic church and attend Mass on Sunday.

In every Mass — in the “Liturgy of the Word” part of the Mass, the same Scripture passages are read around the world.  If I’m in Idaho today, Thursday, January 31, 2013, attending Mass at a small chapel in a small town outside Boise, they will be reading the same passages from the Bible that are being read in New York City at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and in my home parish Saint Peter Chanel here in Roswell, Georgia:

First Reading for this example is Hebrews 10:19-25
Psalm 24: 1-6
Gospel Reading: Mark 4:21-25

lectio divina 3On Sundays, there is another reading from the New Testament added, as well.  The previous Sunday it was 1Corinthians 12:12-30, which is one of my favorites.

I love this about my faith, the universality of it all.  Since I usually only attend Mass on Sundays, I have a subscription to Magnificat, which takes me through prayers and meditations on the daily Gospels. (Or I can always check here to get the readings.)

And so this morning I practiced Lectio Divina in solidarity with all the Catholics around the world reading the same Scripture.

READ:
This example’s Gospel is from Mark 4:21-25:

Jesus said to his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?  For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear out to hear. He also told them, ‘Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you.  To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

MEDITATE:
A lamp is to be placed on a lampstand, and not hidden. For me, today, I relate this to how I am beginning in sobriety to follow God’s will more perfectly. To do this, it seems God is calling me to share myself with others. By being vulnerable–and I am just learning this for the first time in my life—by being vulnerable, I am able to connect authentically with others.  If I make myself vulnerable and put myself “out there” in an honest way–not in a vain or self-serving way but in a way that truly helps me form connections with others—then this pleases God.

The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.  This passage always seems to cut me at my core.  How do I measure?  Do I measure others by how well they practice their faiths, how much money they have, how they raise their children, how they measure others?  I  have a tendency to judge people who judge others ha ha ha.  How messed up is that?

I want to measure others the way Jesus measures me.  With compassion, patience, love and mercy.

PRAY:
Dear God, thank you for another day of sobriety.  Please direct my thinking today and help me do Your will. Teach me to measure the way You measure.  Enlighten me to be aware of when You want me to reach out to others who need help. Keep me out of my own head. Teach me to see others as you see them.

CONTEMPLATE:
This fourth stage of Lectio Divina is when the prayer, in turn, points to the gift of quiet stillness in the presence of God, called contemplation. So, I sit, quiet, still, breathing deeply and taking in all God wants this reading to give to me.  I just sit and hang out with God.  Like Mary (the sister of Martha) just listening to Jesus talk while Martha busied herself in the kitchen, I just sit here at His feet and listen.

“Seek in reading and you will find in meditation; knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation” — Saint John of the Cross.

Here is a link to Jeff Cavin’s take on Lectio Divina.

In Search of Hope and Transformation

butterflyI’ve been an annoying re-blogger the past few days.  I spent three intense days on a marketing proposal I had to present Tuesday, and in good old obsessive fashion I thought of nothing else until it was complete and behind me.  Then yesterday I was in recovery mode from this and spent my time reading other people’s work and re-blogging good stuff.

Now that I’ve recovered from my marketing obsession, I have so many ideas that I want to write about. The problem is determining which one to dive into first. And then I saw a simple post over at Tired of Thinking About Drinking that inspired me to write my own similar post listing the “search terms” people use to find my blog.  This at least has gotten me going and I expect I’ll have two or three posts to follow before the day is over. I hope y’all (yes, I’m from Georgia) don’t get tired of me today!

Search terms used to find my blog:

  • mother son intimacy
  • aa logo
  • catholic and alcoholism
  • catholic alcoholic
  • adopt a cardinal
  • sobriety blogs
  • different kinds of saints
  • is aa ok for catholic
  • lectio divina
  • blog catholic alcoholism
  • 4th step prayer
  • catholic coping mechanisms
  • catholic alcohol addiction
  • prayer book for catholic addicts
  • mother teresa
  • catholic healing for alcoholic parent
  • catholic alcoholics anonymous women
  • catholics and alcohol
  • catholic and being alcoholic
  • gods will regarding alcoholism catholic
  • bruce willis alcoholic
  • mindy mccready suicide
  • 12 steps for catholic priests book
  • hope
  • mary magdalen and the egg
  • pilgrimage florida
  • catholics love alcohol
  • catholic beer
  • calix
  • heather king magnificat
  • “celebrate recovery” catholic
  • king paw jaguar
  • catholic alcohol recovery
  • catholic help with alcoholism
  • pope benedict commentary
  • catechism views on alcoholics anonymous
  • cloud of witnesses

Pretty interesting–at least to me!  So there are people out there searching for the kind of experiences I write about. Dear God, please direct my thinking and my writing so that if ever someone comes across my blog they are left with Your hope. As your dear servant Pope Emeritus Benedict said,

“To be effective the proclamation of faith must begin with a heart that believes, hopes, loves; and a heart that loves Christ also believes in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit!”

So if it be Your will, God, let me be an example of this transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

Different Kinds of Saints

sisters at sunriseSister Weekend 2013 is coming to a close.  We were all up this morning though to see the sunrise–and there were dolphins!  All bundled up and with blankets, we laughed and told stories and huddled close while the humongous perfectly round orange sun rose into the clear sky.

Mom and I were up at 5am first, saying our prayers.  We got into a discussion about how different people pray in different ways.  She prays for others.  My Mom has a list of people she prays for every day.  This list is SO LONG.  And some of the people on her list are people she’s heard about on the news or gotten a prayer request about long ago–and she doesn’t even know if they’re better yet, but she keeps praying for them. But the majority of her prayers are for her eleven children, their spouses and children, and Dad.

One person on her list is a child who was smushed by an elevator—but she doesn’t know how he is doing today or if he even survived.

Mom has all these saints and prayer cards and typed meditations in her little prayer bag—she has a third or fourth degree relic for Padre Pio, something that touched another Padre Pio relic.  My mom loves to pray through Padre Pio, Saint Faustina, Infant of Prague.  She has a prayer for priests, a prayer for religious liberty, a prayer for the Pope, a 30 day prayer she says for all of her children.  She was showing me, “I pray this prayer for you and your sister, this prayer for that person, this prayer for this person, this one for the sons-in-law, this one for Paul’s back troubles…

me and jennyI was so impressed.

In my prayers, I read/pray and meditate on the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Francis of Assisi, John of the Cross, Mother Theresa, Saint Therese the Little Flower, and lately I’ve been praying on the Cloud of the Unknowing.

And then (full disclosure here) I “remember” to pray for everybody else.  It’s like an after thought for me to pray for others during my morning prayers.  I pray for my loved ones throughout the day as their struggles come to mind, but unlike my Mom I do not have a list and a persistence to my prayers for others.

I find what she does is truly remarkable. I’ve thought about this before–like is my way is a little selfish?  I’ve wished I prayed better for others.

And then my Mom this morning commented she wished she could pray more like me.  She’s actually taking a Lectio Divina class at Church with Daddy to learn how to do this better.

She said she has trouble connecting directly to God, having an intimate relationship with him. I said that’s all I do, is connect intimately with God—but it’s all about me!  lol

I was floored.  So, is my way of praying “okay?” If my Mom thinks it is okay, then it must be okay because my Mom is a living saint.  I am thinking about this now.

Last week’s Gospel reading at Mass explained how we each have different spiritual gifts but we’re all of the same body. And there are hundreds and hundreds of saints given to us by the Church to show us there are different ways of approaching God, living our vocations, praying.

I’m drawn to the mystics because they pray like I do:  read, reflect, meditate and pray.  My Mom is drawn to other types of saints, who do acts of service and pray for others.  Because they’re more like her. Like Saint Faustina whose whole big thick diary is filled with praying that others receive divine Mercy.

Anyways, these are thoughts I think of today.  We are all different parts of the same body.

Love the Psalms…

Living Sober through the Psalms

Sober Thought for Day
It’s been said in meetings that if you think you had a high bottom, you may have a low bottom in your future. AA Grapevine

What does it mean to hit rock bottom? When it comes to alcohol and drug addiction, “hitting rock bottom” means that the user comes to a place where he decides he does not wish to continue living the way he is living, and hopefully, is now ready to make changes. Addiction is the only illness where the patient remains oblivious to the fact she needs medical attention. Dr David Karol Gore

If we think we have a pretty “high” bottom, in the back of our minds we might still be thinking, “Maybe it wasn’t that bad, afterall.”  So, we may rationalize after a period of time in sobriety that we can make another attempt at controlled drinking.  The problem is, and this…

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Living Sober with A Cloud of Witnesses

cloud of witnesses

Cloud of Witnesses

The Mass readings today are simply wonderful. All of them.  I was going to LD (Lectio Divina) on just one of them but after going through them I wanted to meditate on them all!

First Reading: Hebrews 12:1-4 (partial)

Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith…

We truly are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses–the angels and saints (and all the faithful departed–especially my relatives who have passed) are with me, as if they are sitting right here at my kitchen table.  The funny thing is if they were sitting here at my table, I’d probably be less inclined to listen to them. I’d be busy like Martha tidying up, stressing about the fact I haven’t showered yet.

I think especially about Saint Teresa the Little Flower today because I need to remember the direction God is pointing me (with Calix and with bringing the Substance Abuse Ministry to Atlanta) is so much bigger than little me.  I’m just a little worker bee doing what God puts in front of me. If I start to plan and determine how and if it will all turn out, then I will mess it all up.  I am little.  And so God will reveal to me only what I need to do today.  That’s pretty much all I can handle.

Dear God, let me rid myself of every burden that clings to me…  every burden–all of my worries about paying bills, getting health insurance, no one showing up for my first Calix meeting tonight, my son who is sick with the flu, my aching back.  In this passage I am asking God to “let me” rid myself of these burdens that cling to me.  Not necessarily the burdens themselves will be gone, but they won’t “cling” to me anymore.  I ask God to let me not be as attached to them as I am.

And Dear God, let me rid myself of every sin that clings to me… every sin, every bad habit and vice–particularly my alcoholic thinking and my laziness. Thank you for another day of sobriety yesterday. And please “let me” have sobriety today.

One day at a time, thank you very much!

Help me persevere in my obligations and responsibilities today but keep my eyes fixed on You.  Allow me to leave the results to You.  If nobody shows up at the Calix meeting, that is okay.  There’s always next month.  And I’ll advertise better next time.

So many great words: burden, persevere, cloud of witnesses, clinging sins, the perfecter of faith

I’ll write and meditate about the Gospel reading (especially Talitha Koum! and the woman who touched him in the crowd!) later, if I get all of my obligations and responsibilities completed first.

 

Sunday Snippets – A Catholic Carnival

Saint Catherine of Siena

Saint Catherine of Siena

So excited to post my inaugural Sunday Snippets with a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. This week Sunday Snippets is hosted over at This That and the Other Thing, so be sure to check out the rest of the bloggers over there.

This past week I blogged about

Different Kinds of Saints where i wrote about the differences between the way my mom prays and the way I do.  In Sister Weekend and Mother Teresa, I wrote about spending the weekend at the beach with my mother and five sisters. My mother gave me a beautiful meditation prayer written by Mother Teresa.

Earlier in the week, I wrote about how I am grateful to be sober in this post and this post.

Here I wrote about how I use the Catholic type of prayer called Lectio Divina to practice the 11th Step of AA. And in this post and this post I wrote about beginning Step Four in the 12 Steps of AA.

Have a great week everybody and thank you so much for including me!

Morning Meditations

rosary_balloonsIn meetings and in the steps it seems there is an intended difference between “prayer” and “meditation.”  Step 10-Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God. For me, one of the benefits of growing up Catholic is the learned mixing of the two.

Praying by talking to God about my day, praying for others, praying for my family, prayers before meals and bedtimes. And another form of Catholic prayer that I love is Lectio Divina, which is praying with the Scriptures.  Of course, the Mass is one big community prayer. But when I think of Catholic meditation I think of the Rosary. And Novenas.

For me, meditation isn’t sitting on the floor with my eyes closed focusing on my breath, chanting a centering word over and over.  I definitely see the benefit there and enjoyed it when we did these sessions in treatment. Focusing on my breath brings me into the present. Blocking all distractions from my mind using one word or phrase really does help me get centered–out of my own head so to speak. But it doesn’t feel like a God thing to me.

The ultimate form of meditation is the Rosary. The repetition of the memorized prayers centers my mind. The fingering of the beads gives me that element of touch. Lifting my thoughts to God by remembering the stories of the Bible–the mysteries of our faith.  On Mondays and Saturdays the recommendation is to Joyful Mysteries: Anunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation and the Finding at the Temple.  I can get teary-eyed on the fifth joyful mystery, imagining what Mary felt like after searching for Jesus for three days finally finding him in the Temple. As a mother of sons I can completely relate to Jesus’ response to his mother, “Where else would I be?”

Mom, why do you have to be so dramatic?

Remembering to breathe. Focusing on the present moment. Blocking out distractions. All good.  In fact, that might be the best way to prepare myself for praying the Rosary.  But that isn’t always convenient in a life of wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, business-owner, old-house owner, daugher-in-law. Me? I need to be able to grab my Rosary off my rearview mirror in the  middle of bumper to bumper Atlanta traffic and meditate on the mysteries of my Faith anytime, anywhere.

“The rosary contributes in a privileged way to prolong communion with Christ, and it educates us to live keeping our hearts’ gaze fixed upon him to radiate on everyone and everything his merciful love.”  Pope Benedict XVI