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.”