Benedict XVI Promotes Biblical Meditation

Ancient Practice Could Bring Renewal to Church

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 16, 2005 ( Benedict XVI believes that the recovery of the practice of “lectio divina,” prayerful meditation of Scripture, will bring a “new spiritual springtime” for the Church.

When meeting today with more than 400 experts attending a congress in Rome on “Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church,” the Holy Father recommended this ancient practice which literally means “divine reading.”

“Assiduous reading of sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer makes that intimate dialogue possible in which, through reading, one hears God speaking, and through prayer, one responds with a confident opening of the heart,” the Pope said.

Over the past 40 years, this proposal has received attention throughout the Church after the publication of the Second Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution on divine Revelation, “Dei Verbum.”

“If this practice is promoted with efficacy, I am convinced that it will produce a new spiritual springtime in the Church,” stated the Holy Father.

To promote “lectio divina,” Benedict XVI suggested “new methods, attentively pondered, adapted to the times.”

“One must never forget that the Word of God is a lamp for our steps and a light on our path,” he said.

The first to use the expression “lectio divina” was Origen (circa 185-254), who affirmed that to read the Bible profitably it is necessary to do so with attention, constancy and prayer.

Later on, “lectio divina” became a mainstay of religious life. The monastic rules of Sts. Pacomius, Augustine, Basil and Benedict made the practice of diving reading, together with manual work and participation in liturgical life, the triple base of monastic life.

The systematization of “lectio divina” in four steps dates back to the 12th century, explained the Holy Father.

Around 1150, Guido, a Carthusian monk, wrote a book entitled “The Monks’ Ladder,” where “he set out the theory of the four rungs: reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation,” according to the Pope. “This is the ladder by which the monks ascend from earth to heaven.”

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