July 8, 2012

Lectio Divina and Contemplation

One of my readers asked about the difference between the practice of Lectio Divina and contemplation. Lectio Divina refers to prayerful reading of the Bible and contemplation is described as a beholding with the eyes of the heart the splendor of the Lord. The two activities are related. That is why, over the course of the last millennium, Lectio Divina is often written about as a method of prayer which culminates in contemplation. Guigo the Carthusian describes how a prayerful engagement with the Scriptures can take us:
  • from reading and listening to a passage from the Bible (lectio
  • to prayerful reflection on the heart piercing truth the Lord discloses to us (meditatio
  • to the ardent offering of deep holy desires in prayer (oratio
  • to astonished wonder over the Lord who gazes on us in love (contemplatio). 
For him and many contemplatives, these activities flow together like rungs on a ladder leading from our earthly life to heaven, from our hearts to the heart of God. From this perspective we could say that prayerfully reading the Bible seeking the saving truth is already the beginning of contemplation. Mulling over the Eternal Word and keeping the Truth in the heart deepens one’s devotion to Christ and the greater our devotion to Him, the more faith opens us to the fullness of His ineffable mystery. In fact, this devoted reading makes the soul vulnerable to the mysterious wisdom and love of God from which we came, for which we are made and in which we are loved. Fashioned as we are for so great a purpose when we seek Him with love, we find Him in love – for He is drawn by love.