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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Benedict and the Bible

St. Benedict loved Jesus. Jesus is the center of the Benedictine spirituality, but Scripture is its cornerstone.
If we want to hear the voice of God, the authoritative source is the bible. It is here, in and through those words, that our Lord speaks to us.

He scheduled life to include several breaks in the day to pray three psalms and read from the Bible. Each week all of the psalms were recited and over time many of the monks memorized all of the words of the psalms. It is literally the case that their lives were drenched in the psalms. Using the psalms to pray, therefore, is an ideal practice. It is intrinsically dialogical because we use God's Word to address God.

In addition, the monk was expected to do lectio divina or Divine Reading. The practice is to take up the Scriptures and to begin reading, then when one is struck by a particular word or verse, one stops to ponder it. The long slow process of talking and listening continues until one feels a sense that it is time to move on. One continues reading until one stops. It is not very delineated and a different approach to what most of us adopt. We tend to identify a set section and read it completely. Meditating on the word opens us to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Lastly, the monk also studies. Prayer with the Bible is not meant to be study. The hard work of learning all we can about the Bible context and the inter-relationships between texts is an intellectual discipline. As one learns one is better able to "hear" God in prayer times.

The Bible is the constant companion of the monk. We are not monks, but we can adopt a practice of regular intervals of prayer and readings. Imagine how you day would be if it began and ended with some psalms and a reading; and during the day you included three breaks of a couple minutes to do a short psalm and a reading. It would focus us and connect us to God in a deeper way.

1 comment:

  1. What you say here is pivotal. Saying "I go to church most Sundays" is just barely staying in touch. Getting/staying/being in touch with Jesus every day is the next, necessary step. And this particular essay allows a lot of room for you to develop that vector. Hubba, hubba!