Lectio Divina: Scripture Reading and Contemplation

Our contemplative life is much inspired by the Bible itself because our interior life depends upon a certain 'listening' which brings us in contact with the divine word.

The divine Word has its maximum guarantee in the Holy Books which are the Words of God spoken to all the Church and spoken to each soul. Through this Word God communicates with you personally, because the Word of God in the Bible has itself this characteristic: while it is directed to all the Church it is also directed to each individual.

The Word of God should truly be nourishment for all. The CFD ought to give to all the possibility of access to the Bible, but each should find a way to it, appropriate to their own needs and capabilities.

We ought to form a Biblical mentality, paying heed to the themes, to the unfolding of the sacred story, of the relationships between one book and another, of the revealed teaching… Slowly what will seem in the beginning a tiring, fruitless task, will reveal itself instead as of great worth.

A Biblical formation gives a more true content not only to prayer but also to our interior attitude, to our relations with others, to our work.

A biblical formation ought to permeate all our life, transforming our intellect, our feelings, it ought to teach us how to work, how to do politics, how to do housework; it ought to teach about the most humble things.

'Lectio Divina' [Sacred Reading] has always been considered the greatest nourishment for monks and nuns; and so we ought to make Holy Scripture the constant food of our soul. We ought to learn and listen to God if we wish to respond to Him.

We cannot do without Lectio Divina. Not even the contemplative can pretend not to listen to God anymore, because somehow he has reached an identification with his Word. No, our unity with Christ will cease to grow only at the instant of our death; only then shall we be dispensed from reading Holy Scripture, from listening to God, because then we shall finally be speaking to him.

We ought therefore to listen to the Word of the Bible. And this reading should suppose in us the greatest respect for the human word as well, because it is through it that God communicates to us his Word.

How do we read Holy Scripture?

It is clear that this reading requires the greatest attention. One should read it under those conditions which most favour the comprehension of the text, and in the spirit of that faith that makes one live in communion with God, who speaks to us through the Holy Books.

Bible reading everywhere and in all ages is a means for prolonging our union with God, living constantly in listening to His Word.

Read calmly, serenely, with simplicity of heart, with purity, with humility and in peace: with such humility and peace did Mary Magdalene remain at Jesus' feet listening to his words. By keeping ourselves in that humility and simplicity of heart with which Samuel turned to the Lord saying: 'Speak, Lord, your servant is listening'; will the reading of the Bible undoubtedly work in us.

If words do not seem to say much to us, still we ought to hold that we have not wasted the time that we have spent on this reading: it already is listening to God believing that God truly speaks to us. And anyway, whatever he may say to you, you will never be able to gather plainly. It is not so much the intellect as much as it is humility, that makes you ready to receive God.

Our prayer should have the very dimensions even of our meditation, and meditation requires careful and loving study, a reverence, a profound love for the Word of God. Our encounter with God comes about in the Bible. He is the Word and He speaks to you and the encounter will happen if you listen. In the Sacrament that union is fulfilled and the transformation is manifest, but the transformation is fulfilled to the measure that you have listened.

Therefore, the first meeting, which establishes the degree of the union between you and God, consists in part from having listened to him, and in part from having responded to him.

We must therefore study Holy Scripture, and Sacred Tradition. We ought to enter into this tradition: it is a world to which we belong.

Tradition is not something added to Scripture, but is as the explication of what Holy Scripture contains.

Tradition is none other than the Word of God alive and present in the Church.

There are no two sources of divine revelation, but one source only: the Word of God entrusted to the Holy Books is slowly assimilated, coming alive and present in its explication, through the work of the Holy Spirit in the bosom of the souls and of the entire Church, down the centuries, even through us, because we too become bearers of a tradition: the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts.

Before the Word of God became flesh, it became a human word in Holy Scripture, which is, in a certain way, the beginning of a divine incarnation.

For us this relationship with the Word of God is essential because in the Christian life, in the supernatural life, the initiative is from God. The first thing required from us is believing that faith depends upon listening to God. 'Fides ex auditu', 'Faith from listening', St Paul says (Romans 10,17). First of all, then we ought to listen to God, and live in a humble dependence upon his Word.

The faithfulness of our calling and our response to the Lord are determined by this study of Holy Scripture that should never be abandoned, but instead become more assiduous and profound so that we can each day more effectively nourish our interior life.

But for me as a Christian, for me as a Catholic, Holy Scripture cannot be separated from the Liturgy. We ought to see clearly and better understand what is the connection between the Bible and the Liturgy: the Bible is ordered to the Liturgy and the Liturgy is the fulfillment of a Scriptural initiation. Through the liturgy, the whole history contained in scripture comes alive and becomes present for each one of us. The Bible really brings us into living a Sacramental life.
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