Lectio Divina
a Guide

posted by Webmaster on November 25, 2023

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Introduction to Lectio Divina

Spiritual reading of Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, is an important form of meditation. This spiritual reading is traditionally called "lectio divina" or "divine reading".

Lectio Divina is a traditional method of prayer over the Scriptures. This article will show you how to prayerfully practice it.

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What Lectio Divina is Not

  • Lectio Divina is not "bible study" nor is it a substitute for Bible study. Bible study is very useful at another time and provides a solid conceptual background for the practice of Lectio Divina.
  • Lectio Divina is not the same as reading the scriptures for the purpose of private edification, encouragement, or getting acquainted with the many-sided aspects of revelation, and especially with Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God. Lectio Divina is rather a way or formula for furthering these objectives.
  • Lectio Divina is not the same as spiritual reading, which moves beyond the exclusive reading of sacred scripture to include other spiritual books such as the lives and writings of the saints.
  • Finally, Lectio Divina is not the same as praying the scriptures in common (or a group), a contemporary development that is sometimes identified with Lectio Divina. The classical practice of Lectio Divina is done in private and consisted in following the movement of the Holy Spirit in regard to the time one might devote to each step of the process, as well as passing from one step to another during the same period of prayer. Following a particular structure, such as is required in all forms of common prayer, group lectio divina tends to limit spontaneity of the movement of the Holy Spirit, which is the heart of the practice.

Lectio divina - Prayer Over the Scriptures

  1. Prepare (Silencio). Silencio is the foundation, brick, and mortar, to Lectio Divina. A solid foundation is necessary to bring about the fruits of Lectio Divina.

    Quiet yourself. Get in a comfortable position, and as you enter prayer, become aware of God’s presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your prayer and to come lovingly through the Word to meet you into this time. Take a few deep breaths with the prayer “Come, Holy Spirit, Come.” Quickly inventory your body, mind, and heart, asking God to quiet each of them in turn.


  2. Read (Lectio). Take a short passage from the Bible (one or two sentences), preferably a scripture passage from today's Mass readings of the Gospel, or that of today's Catholic Daily Reflections, and read it carefully, slowly.

    In this first reading, you want to familiarize yourself with the basic message of the passage and what part of it personally speaks to you. Avoid analyzing it, but simply savor the words, letting them sink in. Less is more with Scripture prayer. Digest it slowly. "Listen with the ear of your heart" (St. Benedict) for a word, phrase, or verse that stands out to you - perhaps ever so slightly. Even if something bothers you or just raises a question, note it. God catches our attention in many ways. Consider reading more than once, and/or out loud.

    Listen for a spiritual nudge: What words or images is the Spirit drawing you toward today? Is there a character you identify with? A moment in the story that captures your attention?


  3. Meditation (Meditatio). Re-read the passage once again, this time lingering over the same person/word/phrase that captured your attention in the first reading. Let your imagination engage the story/text and enter into the Biblical scene in order to "see" the setting, the people, and the unfolding action. What do the characters experience, feel, think?

    It is through this meditation that you encounter the text and discover its meaning for your life. Reflect on how it might intersect with your life today. What (or who) does it bring to your mind? Notice the feelings this passage evokes in you – is there attraction, or resistance of some kind? Invite the Spirit to reveal how this passage might be speaking to your life today.


  4. Prayer (Oratio). Read through the passage yet once more (for the 3rd time), allowing the Scripture to lead you into prayer, your personal response to the text. Ask God for graces, offering God praise or thanksgiving, seeking God's healing or forgiveness.

    In this prayerful engagement with the text, you open yourself up to contemplation with the Trinity. Talk to God about what has come to mind, and how he might be inviting you to respond. Are you feeling led toward a prayer of praise? Repentance? A plea for help or healing?


  5. Contemplation (Contemplatio). In contemplation, you come into an experiential contact with the One behind and beyond the text. Gaze turned toward Christ and the things of God. Rest in the awareness of God's presence, remaining open to anything else the Spirit might stir in your heart. By God's action of grace, you may be raised above meditation to a state of seeing or experiencing the text as mystery and reality.

    If your mind begins to wander during this last stage, Contemplatio, gently redirect your thoughts back towards God. Simply be still. Expect nothing. Enjoy a moment of fellowship with the God that goes deeper than words. Relax in this moment to be with God, and know you are loved.


We hope you've enjoyed this article, Lectio Divina - A Guide. Have a blessed day! +


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