Ancient scripture practice recommended for modern Catholics

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Tuesday 04, January 2011 | Category:  

Lectio divina, a meditative way to read scripture which members of religious orders have been practicing for centuries, is an ideal way for contemporary Catholics to unplug from worldly distractions and establish holy intimacy, permanent friendship, and fruitful companionship with Jesus Christ, says Trappist Brother Simeon Leiva.

Lectio divina—"sacred reading" or "divine reading"—dates from the 2nd century. It uses a pattern of reading, reflection, prayer, contemplation, and action to meditate on short scriptural passages.

Leiva addressed priests of the Archdiocese of New York Dec. 9 at the American Bible Society's launch of two books devoted to the practice: The Catholic Prayer Bible: “Lectio Divina” Edition and Pray With the Bible, Meditate With the Word: A Manual for the Prayerful Reading of the Bible.

Leiva said lectio cultivates the human heart to activate to its highest potential and helps bring Christian souls to their natural state with Jesus Christ at the center of their being. "Union with Jesus is the whole of my life, and my relationship with him is the primal relationship that invigorates all others," he said.

Lectio is a "Catholic way to decompress and pray at the same time. For whatever reason you practice it, it requires you to slow down and unplug yourself,” Leiva said. “It's healthy, and it's very doable.”

In the Archdiocese of New York, lectio training began last year and will be offered twice in 2011. Capuchin Franciscan Father Brendan Buckley, parochial vicar at St. John the Evangelist in Goshen, N.Y., said he plans to work with two neighboring parishes to introduce the practice to Spanish-speaking groups in Lent "to promote the sense that the Bible is the living word of God.”

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