[From Tim Bingham, Mediator Allentown]
Saturday, April 9 at 9:30am
Contemplative prayer: Lectio Divina/ Centering Prayer
Lectio Divina dates back to the Middle Ages and has been a big part of the devotional life of Benedictine monks. Lectio Divina starts with slow devotional reading of a scriptural text. (“Lectio”) As we read gently, slowly, and attentively, we look for a word or a phrase that seems to have special meaning for us on this particular day. We read as we listen for the still, small voice of God and when we find the word or phrase that “has weight”, we repeat this word or phrase meditatively. We are encouraged to meditate carefully and devotedly on this phrase. (This step is called “Meditatio.”) The third stage in Lectio Divina is called “Oratio,” or prayer. In this stage, we take the chosen phrase and we use it to guide us in a dialogue with God in prayer. In the fourth stage, called “Contemplatio,” we let our mind flow in contemplation.
The second type of contemplative prayer, called Centering Prayer, dates back to the 1970’s when three Trappist monks developed a method for prayer that does not directly focus on the Divine but rather sets up the mind to be conducive to the Holy Spirit welling up within us. Centering prayer starts with our choosing a one- or two- syllable word such as “Abba” or “Amen.” This word is then expressly selected by us as a “sacred word” since we choose it as a symbol of our intention to consent both to God’s presence within us and to God’s acting within us. Then, as we sit quietly without any expressed thoughts, we watch our mind. Whenever a thought appears, we introduce the sacred word that we have chosen, and the thought will dissipate. The goal then is to be still and have our mind relatively free of thoughts, so that we can “contemplate.”
In this upcoming quiet day, we will discuss these two forms of prayer and then we will have a brief period to experience a taste of Lectio Divina and of Centering Prayer.