Day 2 | 31 days of St Ignatius 2018

Be still and know - Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

AMDG

Fr James Hanvey SJ, Master of Campion Hall, University of Oxford, gives us a simple reflection on Christian prayer. He discusses Christ's own prayer and how we can use the prayer of the Church to draw closer to God the Father.

Part of the Catholic Bishops' conference series 'Schools of Prayer'.

Lectio Divina

Your Word is a Light for My Steps

Lectio Divina (Latin for godly reading) is a simple yet profound method of prayer found in many traditions of Christian spirituality. Sometimes it is called 'meditative reading' or 'spiritual reading', but could perhaps better be described as praying with a listening heart. The 'lectio' of Lectio Divina is a listening with the heart, as you tend to do quite naturally when you are struck by the beauty of a sunset, as you are mulling over a treasured memory, or as you pay attention to someone you love. 

In praying this way you hear a scripture passage or other sacred text and you let God guide your heart. You read slowly, with pauses, and relish or drink in the words you are hearing. A natural process takes place: heartfelt listening moves naturally into a deep reflection upon the words and the silences between them; and that deep reflection leads you to some kind of heartfelt response. You find yourself speaking from the heart to the God who has spoken to you. 

Let the ease and rhythm of this approach to prayer carry you deeper into God.

Beginning

Choose your scripture passage and become comfortable with it. Read it over a few times to get past any questions that arise about meaning. Invite God to speak to you through the text. Ask for openness. Let yourself settle into an expectant stillness.

This kind of prayer has three 'phases' that you move between as you feel drawn: lectio (reading), meditatio (meditation) and oratio (prayer).

You can now choose a passage of scripture that you would like to pray with, or use today's Gospel reading which is below as we begin...

Lectio

Read slowly and gently, listening with your heart to the words. There is no need to rush. No need to get to the end of the passage. When a particular word or phrase strikes you and seems to have some savour, linger with it ... 

Gospel Matthew 8:18-22 ©

The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head

When Jesus saw the great crowds all about him he gave orders to leave for the other side. One of the scribes then came up and said to him, ‘Master, I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Another man, one of his disciples, said to him, ‘Sir, let me go and bury my father first.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.’

Meditatio 

... let it into you. Pause with it. Let the word or phrase resonate. Repeat it to yourself, relish it, let it echo and soak into you until the 'flavour' begins to go, then ... 

Oratio 

... let yourself respond in prayer, in words from the heart, or a space full of silence, or spontaneous, unspoken feeling. Whenever the moment feels ripe, begin to read again ... 

Gospel Matthew 8:18-22 ©

The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head

When Jesus saw the great crowds all about him he gave orders to leave for the other side. One of the scribes then came up and said to him, ‘Master, I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Another man, one of his disciples, said to him, ‘Sir, let me go and bury my father first.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.’

Ending

When you are ready, mark the end of your time of prayer with some closing gesture or words of prayer. Afterwards you might want to make a note of anything that seemed significant.

We invite you to make these notes on our website. You have been given a login to allow you to keep your notes, thoughts and feelings in one place. There is no obligation, but an opportunity to reflect as a prayerful community. You will have an email from this site ([email protected]) with your username on the first line. Please use that to request a password here: Log in

You might also like to explore the My Prayer Life section of this website, for further tools for prayer.

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