Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)


At some point during my years in the convent, it occurred to me to capture the Psalms by writing what they meant to me. I suppose it was an early way of Lectio Divina prayer. Long before this beautiful way of praying with Scripture was crafted, I was reading these beautiful words of Scripture and writing out what they spoke in my own heart. At the time, my directress encouraged me to continue this work and even used some of my scribblings in the spiritual reading at mealtimes (we used to listen in silence to one of our group reading aloud from a selected work during the first half of our meals). At the time, I was hesitant — it seemed like I was sort of retranslating the Psalms, if you will, from English into more everyday language.

Now, I find myself newly intrigued with the idea. I’ve long since lost the work I did back then; I suppose I turned it in to Sr. Alvara or Sr. Judith as I did it, and it probably was not returned to me. Our preparations for vows of poverty and obedience involved ceding our claims to such things in favor of the interests of the community.

I first encountered the Lectio Divina approach to prayer about three years ago when a small faith-sharing group I was leading explored a series of presentations by Dr. Tim Gray on the topic. The words “Lectio Divina” suggest the approach within themselves; the literal translation, “divine reading,” leads us into the Scriptures, the Living Word of God. The steps, in most articles on the topic, are summarized as follows:

  1. Read (slowly, prayerfully, mindfully — often reading the passage several times, sometimes reading out loud)
  2. Reflect (what does the passage mean to you? what stands out? what seems to call for attention?)
  3. Respond/Resolve (talk to God “as you would to a parent, sibling, or trusted friend”)
  4. Rest (in silence, in God’s presence — and listen)


The final piece to this puzzle, for me, is that as a writer, I never quite feel that an experience — especially a spiritual experience — is complete until I’ve captured in in writing. This need is almost a compulsion for me. The Evangelical Catholic, in fact, recommends writing as part of step 3, when particular insights present themselves.

The beauty of Lectio Divina is in the way it leads one to listen for God’s promptings. This begins with the process of centering oneself on Scripture as the Living Word of God; by reading a selected passage slowly and reading it several times, we become open to it, and then in our time of reflection we can begin to hear what God wants us to learn.

What I find most fascinating and captivating is that third step — having a conversation with God. As someone who grew up on memorized prayers, I have always tended to absorb the formal “language of prayer” even in my “extemporaneous” prayers. I have been astounded by what has happened since I began to focus on having the kind of conversation with God that I would have with my brother. Once I wasn’t searching for the formal “language of prayer,” I became free to share everything with God. It wasn’t long before I found myself having this running conversation with my Father even outside the times of Lectio Divina prayer — just as I can sit with my brother over coffee and talk for hours, I find myself simply talking to God in my head about what’s going on in my day or about what I’m concerned about or thinking about.

The greatest beauty of Lectio Divina, for me, is the listening part, because God is always speaking to us through His Living Word. Jesus is present as the Word of God in this way. And He does indeed speak. Sometimes it’s the “still, small voice” that Elijah heard; and sometimes it feels like thunder (cf. Job 37:4-5). It can be quite startling to become aware of a thought, fully formed, presenting itself. There is no “voice” involved, at least not for me, but there might as well be — it is that evident that Someone is speaking to me.

Sometimes, His communication is much more subtle, as when a particular word or phrase in Scripture, prayer, other spiritual reading, or the Mass will suddenly stand out, and I find myself compelled to a listening sort of reflection. A simple truth: the grace to listen and hear and capture these moments is a life-changer. The more I listen, the more I hear — and the more I seek.

It is my hope and intention, in the coming days and weeks, to be able to share in this space what comes from some of those moments of reflection and listening.

Father, I need Your grace to keep me tuned in and listening so that I will always be ready to hear what You have to say to me. My days are busy and can be full of distractions. Please use them to get my attention so that I can “pray always.” 


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