Eucharistic Discipleship, Part IV: Lectio Divina continued
Last Sunday I began writing about the traditional Scripture based practice of prayer called Lectio Divina or ‘Sacred Reading’. I set forth the four basic steps of this way of prayer: read, reflect, respond, and ‘rest’ or contemplate. I also mentioned a fifth step, resolve, which flows naturally from the ‘respond’ step, but also fits at the end because it connects our prayer to our daily life. So today I continue with the fifth step, ‘resolve’.
Resolve: The spiritual bouquet (mentioned last week), which takes some brief thoughts or words from the time of ‘rest’ into our day as points of reference, is one way to bring our practice of prayer into our daily life. Another way is through the practice of making a resolution before finishing our prayer. Properly this is part of the ‘Response’ that we make after listening attentively to the word of God. It also requires a bit of reflection. I apply the word of God to my life; I see how my life is falling short of God’s word; I think of some small, concrete, practical step I can take today to draw closer to God.
For example, if I realize that my short temper keeps me from drawing closer to God, I might consider what sort of provocation I might be likely to face during the coming day. Then, arming myself beforehand I might plan my reaction so as to forestall losing my temper. Then I offer that little plan to God, resolving to take the steps I have laid out, and asking him (or the Virgin Mary, my guardian angel, or one of the saints) for the grace to remember my plan and the strength to put it into action at the appropriate moment.
The more a person practices Lectio Divina, the more he learns to feed upon God’s word in prayer, the more the word of God becomes a part of his life, the more ready he will be for a full, conscious, and active participation in the Liturgy of the Word at Mass. The person who practices Lectio Divina develops an ear attuned to listening to God’s word and a heart disposed to respond to what he hears. He will then readily hear Christ speaking in his word, proclaimed publicly to the whole Church at the Mass. He will derive also the instruction he needs from well-prepared homilies.
If we learn to pray the Rosary with the mysteries, we will discover that this beautiful prayer is indeed a form of Lectio Divina in the company of Mary.
Further, the much beloved prayer of the ‘Hail Mary’ shows us how deeply the practice of Lectio Divina guided by the Holy Spirit has shaped the life of the Church. Meditation on God’s word led to a deepened appreciation of the inestimable dignity of Mary as proclaimed by the Angel Gabriel and St. Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:28,42). The greetings of Mary were joined together in a sort of ‘spiritual bouquet’ that came to be known as the ‘angelic salutation’, the first part of the Hail Mary as we know it today. In the 16th century the response, inspired also by the Holy Spirit, was added by the Church: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
There we see exemplified, in a very dense, historic fashion, the practice of reading, reflection, and response.
May we all truly come to rest in Jesus Christ, the blessed fruit of the blessed womb of the blessed Virgin Mary.
May 18, 2022
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