Lectio divina

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Lectio divina –divine reading is an old form of religious study that is making a strong comeback today. There are 4 basic stages: reading, meditation or reflection, response or prayer, and finally resting in the Word, or contemplating it.

For today’s gospel, after reading it slowly and considering what is being said, I want to find one phrase in particular that really resonates with me. But first, to practice Lectio Divina, I must find some quiet space in my busy life to reflect on what is being said.

“I shall not leave you orphans.” This phrase really hits me. What does it mean to be an orphan? Especially in the time of Christ it meant being without family, having no one to guide or mentor you. It meant no hope, no future, it meant no connection of the past with the present. Boys could not learn a trade from their fathers. Girls would have no dowry, no hope for a good marriage. It would have been a life filled with uncertainty, doubt, fear, and despair. The disciples were facing an uncertain future without the physical presence of Christ that they had come to rely on. But here Christ is promising to not leave them – or us – orphans. The child raised in a family with dad in the military may feel empty at times without the missing parent, but he is not orphaned. He has such resources as letters, phone calls and perhaps Skype to shape his connection with the missing parent. He is not abandoned.

It’s the same with us, Christ may not be visible to others in the room with us, but the connection we have is still alive and well. We have God’s Holy Word to read and ponder, and we have the Advocate – the Holy Spirit to be our guide and mentor. We are not orphans; we are not alone and needn’t be filled with despair.

The next stage of Lectio divina would be to respond. Prayer, of course is the primary response, but I mustn’t rule out another form if that’s what works for me. Perhaps it is to let a relevant song resound through my mind. Maybe it is digging out some old photos that bring to mind relevant feelings. Or maybe original artwork is my thing this time. For me it most often comes in writing. The important thing is to respond in some way. Finally I tuck it back in our mind and “sleep on it.” I want the ideas, the passions, to sit in the back of my mind, mingling with my everyday life until it is incorporated into my beliefs and practices.

“I will not leave you orphans.” I ask myself, what am I doing in my everyday live to provide continuing support to my kids and grandkids? Am I letting them live their lives like spiritual orphans just because they are “on their own” now? If Christ is truly alive to others through me, then I need to act on keeping that connection healthy.

Linda Crowley