Over the past few weeks, the seminarian who is working in our chapel this summer has started and leads us in what is called Lectio Divina.
All of us involved at the beginning were unfamiliar with LD, other than the name. I am under the impression that there may be other forms of it, but here I will tell you what we do.
Lectio Divina means "divine reading". A thumbnail of the technique would be to say that we s-l-o-w things down, in particular scripture reading, and repeat it s-l-o-w-l-y a few times, and then meditate and contemplate. This was a common practice among the Desert Fathers, I am told.
I have a terrible time slowing and quieting my mind. Three things I MUST not do before bed if I wish to have a good sleep are to have a fight with someone, drink coffee, read liturgy books (no, I'm not kidding). I'm told by a friend that I have a mind like a terrier. Once it clamps on to something, it doesn't let it go.
So, I thought LD would be difficult for me on that count.
Five of us, including the seminarian, were at the first meeting. We had already been sent a teaching on LD so we would have an idea how we would proceed. We were also instructed that the Gospel reading for the following Sunday would be used as the scripture reading.
The teaching laid out the plan: Scripture would be read slowly three times by one person. Then there would be a meditation. This took the form of a reading about the passage by a well-known writer. This was also read at about half the speed one would normally read aloud. The next division was to pray. Then we contemplate.
For the purposes of group LD, one person had a watch. A quiet bell was rung when we changed 'modes' at 10 minute intervals.
This is how it worked out. We met and the two of us who would be reading aloud were assigned our reading. We started with five minutes of silence. We then recited the Lord's Prayer at a pace to match breathing. After this, we begin.
All is utterly silent except for the reader and the bell (or drinking glass and teaspoon, as in our case!).
I discovered that is is rather difficult to read aloud at half speed! Try it sometime.
During the 10 minute 'prayer' segment, we try to "hear" God speak to our hearts as we think about the Gospel we have just heard. We may also feel called to share the prayer aloud. During the contemplation segment, we think about God. Some get some rather suprising insights at this time.
When one is very familiar with Scripture, one may also have other pertinent scripture readings come to mind. One may just say the number of the reading aloud (assuming you can find the reading when you want it!) and the others may look it up and read it to themselves.
After this is all over, we usually sit around for a few minutes in a stupour and as we 'wake up' (no one has ever fallen asleep...really) we discuss what may have happened. Questions about the procedure may be asked.
I was surprised at how easily I could quiet my mind the first time. I did find, however, that toward the end of the 40 minutes I kept having to reign my mind back in as it started to plan the following day.
It's been a little more difficult since. I do not do it daily on my own, which might help.
Praying LD on ones own allows a little more flexibility. The seminarian says he tends to skip the 2nd and 3rd step and goes straight to contemplation. Each segment can be as long or short as one wishes.
I'm not sure how we'll keep this up after 'our' seminarian leaves. I do hope someone takes it over!