Week Three – A Classical Rhythm of Contemplation

statue of St. Francis in San Damiano

This week Walter shared four latin words that have been used to describe a rhythm of contemplation for centuries:

Lectio – (lit. “reading”) – Receiving – when you catch a “glimpse,” something of what is heard or seen or read “hits home,” gets your attention as speaking to your spirit. Most typically, lectio divina practices this in relation to a short piece of writing (often Scripture), but the same sense of receiving can refer to any reading or listening or something in nature or any object of attention that speaks a word to the spirit.

Meditatio – (lit. “think or reflect on, meditate”) – Repetition – giving reflective attention to something until it is integrated, moves from the head to the heart – becomes real. Often this is literal repetition – holding a word or phrase through the day. Definitely more repetition than analysis.

Oratio – (lit. “prayer”) – Response – a response of the heart to the ‘word’ received and repeated. Less a response of many words and more a sense of consent, gratitude and love, but may also include a sense of asking for assistance related to the word.

Contemplatio – (lit. “time out,” assoc. with Gk. theoria “to see God”) – Union – a whole-being “yes,” fully entering into what has been received, deep and experienced integration.

(Based largely on Basil Pennington’s Centering Prayer)

We ended by practicing a lectio divina exercise based on Isaiah 30.15-18.

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