Thursday, October 7, 2010

dhyana-the group

October 7, 2010

Tonight we’ll try a technique called Lectio Divina, or “holy reading.” This is an ancient art that was practiced at one time by all Christians, and now is kept alive by Benedictine monastics. It is a slow, contemplative way of praying the scriptures. And, by the way, completely different from what we’ve done in the previous weeks. This time we’ll INVITE thoughts instead of chasing them away!

The first step is Lectio-reading & listening. In this step we listen deeply to the passage we have selected. In The Rule (his guide for monastics), St. Benedict urges us to listen “with the ear of our hearts.” He suggests we try to imitate the prophet Elijah who, in I Kings 19:12, listened to the still, small voice of God within…the “faint, murmuring sound” which is God’s word for us. In this manner we atune ourselves to the presence of God. Is there one word or phrase that particularly jumps out at you?

The second step is Meditatio-meditation. Once we’ve found a word or passage that speaks to us, we take it in and ruminate on it. This is reminiscent of cattle chewing their cud. In Luke 2:19 we hear of the Virgin Mary “pondering in her heart” what she saw and heard from the angels when they visited the manger after Jesus was born. Through meditation we allow God’s word to become His word for us. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF DISTRACTIONS. Instead of dismissing them, allow them to happen and give them God. They are a part of yourself that is asking for recognition and to be given over. Is there a particular problem or struggle that is bothering you? A longing?

Oratio is the third step-prayer. This is the dialogue part. We’ve heard what God is telling us in the scripture and we talk to Him about it. We allow this scripture to touch us and change us. In oratio, we allow ourselves to be touched and changed by the scripture. Is God inviting you to do something?

The final step is Contemplatio-contemplation. Rest. Rest in the embrace of our God.  Allow ourselves to be His Beloved. Words are unnecessary. It’s like being in the presence of a dear friend or spouse and knowing that words are not necessary.

As a group, we’ll read the scripture passage 3 times, pausing between each reading.
Tonight we’ll consider Psalm 91:

My Refuge and My Fortress

91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

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