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A Process for Reflection on the Word….”Lectio Divina” as Simple as 1, 2, 3, 4

“Lectio Divina” as Simple as 1, 2, 3, 4

 Brazilian Cardinal Explains Prayerful Reading of Scripture

SÃO PAULO, Brazil, SEPT. 15, 2009 ( Zenit.org ).-

 As Brazil celebrates the month of the Bible, Cardinal Odilo Scherer recommended to his archdiocese the exercise of prayerful reading of the Word of God, and explained how to do it.

In the archdiocesan weekly “O São Paulo,” the archbishop of São Paulo recalled how the synod of bishops on the Word of God, held last October, “noted with joy that in the whole world the prayerful reading of the Bible — lectio divina — is being adopted and is spreading.”

“It is a simple method accessible to everyone, including the most simple,” the cardinal said, explaining that the method “proposes the reading and acceptance of the Word of God in a context of prayer, as the Church recommends.” Through lectio divina, Cardinal Scherer continued, a “dialogue of faith” is established, “in which we listen to God who speaks, we respond with prayer and try to be attuned to him in our lives.”

Step by step

 The cardinal went on to offer the faithful four easy steps for lectio divina.

 First, one reads the passage. “In this first instance, one attempts to understand the text exactly as it appears, without pretending to extract from it immediately messages and conclusions,” he said.

Meditation on the text comes next, in response to the question “What is God saying to me, or to us, through this text? Now we really do try to listen to God who is speaking to us and we receive his voice.”

 Then comes “prayer. In this third step, we respond to the question: What does this text bring me to say to God?” “Let us always remember that a good biblical reading is always done only in the dialogue of faith: God speaks, we listen and accept, and respond to God and speak to him,” the cardinal explained. The text “might inspire several types of prayer: praise, profession of faith, thanksgiving, adoration, petition for forgiveness and help.”

 The fourth and final step of lectio divina is contemplation. In this step “we dwell on the Word and further our understanding of the mystery of God and his plan of love and salvation; at the same time, we dispose ourselves to accept in our concrete lives what the Word teaches us, renewing our good intentions and obedience of the faith.”

With these four steps, Cardinal Scherer said experience teaches that it is not difficult to practice lectio divina. “It’s enough to start; it is learned by being practiced,” he said. “The preciousness of the Word of God and its importance for Christian life, moreover, well merits an effort on our part.”

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Filed under: Spirituality

Labor Day and Blessed Frederick Ozanam

Wishing everyone a Happy Labor Day.

It is also interesting this year that Labor Day falls on the memorial of Blessed Frederick Ozanam, the founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

In the 1830’s he and a friend began visiting Paris tenements and offering assistance as best they could. Soon a group dedicated to helping individuals in need under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul formed around Frederick.

In 1846, Frederick, Amelie and their daughter Marie went to Italy; there Frederick hoped to restore his poor health. They returned the next year. The revolution of 1848 left many Parisians in need of the services of the St. Vincent de Paul conferences. The unemployed numbered 275,000. The government asked Frederick and his co-workers to supervise the government aid to the poor. Vincentians throughout Europe came to the aid of Paris.

Frederick then started a newspaper, The New Era, dedicated to securing justice for the poor and the working classes. Fellow Catholics were often unhappy with what Frederick wrote. Referring to the poor man as “the nation’s priest,” Frederick said that the hunger and sweat of the poor formed a sacrifice that could redeem the people’s humanity.

In 1852 poor health again forced Frederick to return to Italy with his wife and daughter. He died on September 8, 1853. In his sermon at Frederick’s funeral, Lacordaire described his friend as “one of those privileged creatures who came direct from the hand of God in whom God joins tenderness to genius in order to enkindle the world.”

Frederick was beatified in 1997.

Frederick’s witness as a lay Catholic engaged in social ministry serves as a model for our own time.  He offered his talents to teach others incorporating the gospel message, as well as living out his witness by serving those, especially as an advocate and with direct material aid to help working class families.

What do you think Frederick Ozanam offers our time?

Filed under: Culture, Personal Reflections, Social Justice, Spirituality