July 10, 2012

St. Benedict and Lectio Divina

For St. Benedict, Lectio divina is an important part of Quaerere Deum, the search for God. (See his Rule, #48) We seek the Lord and find Him by obediently serving Him in love and humility. Yet, we cannot serve the Truth who is God if we cannot discern His voice. Because it radically roots us in the same Word the Father has spoken to us once and for all, Lectio divina opens our hearts to the voice of the Lord which whispers deep within our being. The beautiful, surprising and in-flowing presence of the Lord is free when devotion filled study purifies the heart with sacred doctrine. Lectio divina, prayerful Study of the Sacred Scriptures, makes the heart vulnerable to this purification.

Obedience – generous attentiveness to the Word of God chanted in the psalms, read in the Scriptures, present through the members of the community, spoken by those in authority, proclaimed in the liturgy and at even at meals – requires continual personal study of the Word with prayerful devotion of heart. This kind of attentive obedience is not exhausted by external works and the conformity of outward behavior. It requires a total conversion of the inner man – an ongoing conversation with the Word of the Father about one’s way of life in light of the Gospel. Lectio divina is about cultivating this deeper interiority, this more intense vigilance for the Life, Truth and Way in the inner most sanctuary of one's own soul.

Lectio divina directed to obedience to Christ is part of our spiritual battle. We must never lose courage when confronting the evil one, or the world, or, most especially, ourselves. This requires a constant struggle against pride and an ongoing commitment to humility, to remembering that we are but the Lord’s fertile soil – it is up to Him to sow the seeds that will produce much fruit. Our job is to stand firm, to persevere, to believe in God’s mercy and to be generously open to His holy will – wherever we find it. When we read the Scriptures in prayerful reflection, searching its meaning with all the strength of our soul, He gives us the weapons to realize His victory once again – the victory the Savior won on Calvary is renewed whenever we persevere in surrendering our hearts to the Eternal Word in the present moment of our lives.