Friday, 26 December 2008

Meditating on Scripture...

I thought I had better get on with my series on lectio divina, and these days after Christmas might be a particularly good time to focus on this stuff as you think about possible New Year resolutions, so a little taster now, and more after Christmas!

So first, a brief refresher. You can find the previous parts of this series here:

Part I: Read - get the text you are using firmly fixed in your head.

Part II: Think - plan out how you are going to tackle it.

Part III: Study - make sure you understand the context, literal and spiritual meanings.

The other three stages are meditate, pray, contemplate and work (put into practice).

Today I want to talk about meditation....

Our Lady as a model of meditation

The first thing to say is that Our Lady is generally regarded as the model for lectio divina. Meditation in the Benedictine tradition follows that idea of Our Lady treasuring all those things in her heart, turning them over and over, and reflecting on their meaning.

In the post on study I suggested the kinds of things one can look for flowing out of the words of the text, but in reality there are many different methods of meditation, and I think you just have to find one that works for you. I prefer the idea of keeping going back to the text, and seeing what you can draw out of it. But the Ignatian idea of putting yourself into the Biblical scene and engaging each of the senses, for example, can be equally helpful depending on your personality!

Why we meditate

The key point to bear in mind I think is the purpose of all this.

First we have to be actively listening to what God is trying to say to us - open to having our view of ourselves and the world changed by imitating Christ and accepting the implications of the truths Scripture and Traditional reveal.

Secondly, seeing how we fall short of the Gospel ideal, seeing the cracks in our worldview when it is held up to the mirror of the Scripture is a necessary start.

But we also have to genuinely want to change, to constantly recommit ourselves to strive for perfection - and that means looking to Scripture for the reasons why we should embark on this path. Meditating on the joys of heaven, the happiness we can achieve now, the rewards Our Lord promises can be helpful too!

Finally, we need to look at Scripture to find the tools we need to change - through Advent, many of the readings have focused on the need for repentance and confession. There is a lot more there to be found and utilised though, if, for example, we look at how Our Lord taught the disciples, and not just in words!

So meditate

Meditation really should take up the bulk of the time you set aside for lectio divina - or at least the work you do in that time should set you up to meditate fruitfully on the text as you do other things during the day. Think about leaving the radio (or Ipod) off as you are do housework, drive to work, or go for a walk for example, and taking one of the lines of thought you have identified as you pursue these activities!
The next stage is prayer.


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