What is Lectio Divina



Lectio Divina as a spiritual practice

In the life of the Christian meditator

Through Lectio Divina we learn to know the heart of God,

through the Word of God.

Saint Gregory the Great

“Saint Benedict saw lectio, spiritual reading, as an integral part of our Christian living. . . .  The purpose of lectio is to help us respond to the presence of God in his Word. . . Lectio prepares us for the mystery of God – a mystery that ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard’.  We have to be clear that it does prepare us. The movement itself is accomplished by the redemptive love of Jesus that we encounter as our spirit open fully to his life released in our hearts.”  

From Community of Love, “The Monastic Adventure”. John Main OSB

“When we are open and receptive to the Word of God, conversion happens.  It is not a matter of changing our opinions or acquiring a new spiritual home.  It is a revolution in the deep structures of the personality that, if it is genuine, goes on for the rest of our lives.”

From Laurence Freeman OSB – Introduction to The Burning Heart. Gregory Ryan.

In the centuries-old tradition of lectio divina – which is Latin for sacred reading – it is suggested that, before or after your morning or evening meditation, you read a passage of scripture. After reading this go back to it, either then or later, and spend some time – even 15 or 20 minutes if you can – reverently turning the passage over in your heart.  Read slowly and lovingly, pausing whenever the words draw you into silence.  Close your eyes and experience the meaning of the words for you now. But even more, experience the presence found in them. Let the reality of the words become more and more a part of your being.


During the time of lectio, the historical setting of the passage is not as important as the place it has in your life now. In a real sense, you are not the same person you were ten, five or even one year ago.  Since you are always a ‘new person’ your response to the Word will never be the same.  You may find yourself making acts of the will to conform you life more to the message of the text.  One day you may rest in a deep peace.  Another day you may be aware of tension, anger or sorrow.  These feelings should not cause any anxiety because they are all part of God’s healing action at work in you.  In time, you will learn to accept yourself as a work-in-progress, and your growing appreciation for the Living Word of God will lead you to a life of constant wonder, gratitude and love.

Adapted from – The Burning Heart, Gregory Ryan


A Simple Way of Lectio Divina

Your words were found and I ate them,

and your words became to me a joy

and the delight of my heart.

(Jeremiah 15:16)

Prepare for your time of Lectio in a similar way as to how you prepare for meditation.   Allow 15 – 20 minutes to slowly move through the stages outlined  

Reading / Lectio  

(Listening) Read the passage slowly, two or three times and notice what word or phrase speaks to you.  –   What am I hearing?

Meditation / Meditatio

(Repetition)  Repeat the word or phrase over and over, allow it to sink into and act on your heart, notice any feelings, thoughts, questions arising and allow these to touch your life.  –  How is this touching me?

Prayer / Oratio    

(Listening) Listen for what you sense the Lord is saying to you now. Take this to heart and ask for the grace to be taught and formed by the Word of God.   

What new insight am I being invited to embrace?

What am I hearing?

How is this touching me?

What new insight am I being invited to embrace?

How will I respond?

You could also form a short mental prayer around your response.


Contemplation / Contemplatio

(Being) Stay quietly with whatever is happening, and trust this.  Now is the time to stop pondering, and allow yourself to be with what is, knowing that the Lord loves you and wants what is best for you.

The next step

“The next step is to start the work of silence, the saying of the word throughout the time of meditation.

You will find that lectio is an enriching form of prayer that will help you enter more fully into the separate time of prayer set aside for meditation with the mantra. Your meditation – called ‘pure prayer’ because in it we ‘abandon all the riches of thought and imagination (Cassian, Conference X) – also prepares the heart for lectio but also for the Eucharist and all other forms of prayer in a contemplative spirit. All prayer is a participation in the prayer of Jesus. In that sense all our forms of prayer are preparations for this grace of participation.” (Laurence Freeman OSB)


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