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.

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

In Western art, vanity was often symbolized by a peacock,

In Western art, vanity was often symbolized by a peacock,

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other.  For this third Sunday of Lent, we’re linking up with RAnn of This, That and The Other Thing. My offerings this week:

Have you had “The Talk” with your middle-schooler where I wrote about having the alcohol talk with my kids is actually more important to me than having the sex talk.

In Thank you, Papa I say thank you and happy trails to Pope Emeritus Benedict.

In my 7-Quick Takes, I wrote about the 7 Things I like About Alcoholics Anonymous.

And in Dear God, I write a thank you letter to God for the blessings in my life.

So that’s it!  Head on over to the Catholic Carnival and add your own link to participate.  Be sure to check out the other posts as they’re always filled with such hope and inspiration!

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!

Intimacy Between Mother and Son

Jesus at Wedding of CanaLast Sunday’s Gospel reading is one of my all-time favorites.  So many good things in it–and there was wine!

Jesus performs his very first public miracle.  How cool is that?

And his mother Mary is involved. She instructs them to, “Do whatever he tells you.” Simple advice for all of us!

But mostly in this Gospel I especially love the interaction between Jesus and his mom–having two sons of my own, I imagine the underlying messages in Jesus and Mary’s exchange.

Woman, how does your concern affect me?”

This makes me laugh. I LOVE THIS.

“Woman.”  Many writers have made note that at first glance this sounds a little disrespectful.  But not willing to concede that Jesus was ever disrespectful to his mom, thankfully, more context is given which shows how the norms of the culture and language of Jesus’ day makes this address make sense.

To me, a mother of two sons ages 10 and almost 13, I don’t see disrespect at all—and I’m not an ancient culture or language scholar. I see humor, intimacy, a little sarcasm and a knowing smile behind Jesus’ chosen words to his mother in Cana.

Humor?  Sarcasm?  Where do I get that?

So, for example, my boys joke around with me all the time as a sign of affection.  I think they get this from their father.  When a boy teases a girl, it’s his way of showing her he likes her.  It starts way back in grade school.

The other day I mentioned to Ben, “Ben, we really need to rake the yard or the grass isn’t going to grow this spring.”

Ben answered, “Yeah, Mom, we really do. (pointing) The rake is right over there.”

Of course, he grins when he says this and we both know my little phlegmatic-sanguine child will comply with my request.  But he’s got to mess with me a little bit first.

Little boys—including Jesus—-love their mamas.

Jesus also uses, “Woman,” to address Mary Magdalene in John 20:15, saying, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  He knows why she’s weeping — she came to the tomb and his body was gone.  Next thing Jesus says in John 20:16 is “Mary!  Like, “Hello?  It’s me.  I’m here. It’s okay.”

Last Sunday’s Gospel John 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from — although the servers who had drawn the water knew —, the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.