Lectio divina (Latin for sacred reading) is a contemplative way of reading and praying with Scripture. Rather than trying to rationally understand a static text, this practice helps us be present to the Living Word of God and allow it to change us. In lectio divina, God teaches us to listen for and seek God’s presence in silence. Although the Bible is most often used, many people practice lectio divina with nature. Franciscans believe that the first act of divine revelation is Creation itself, so it makes sense to “read” or observe God’s presence in Brother Sun and Sister Moon, in animals and plants.

As with other forms of lectio divina, the practice is divided into four steps. Find a place where you are surrounded by the beauty of nature and where you feel safe to be quiet and alone for 20 or more minutes.

1. Lectio/Read
In silence, be attentive to your surroundings, opening to the mystery of these beings’ existence and prayerfully asking them to address you. Simply asking is creating a space in which a response can happen. If you like, use a journal to write down any impressions that arise.

2. Meditatio/Meditate

Ponder what you are observing, being attentive to whatever is in front of you as though you could be in dialogue with it. For example, as you look around, if you see a flower, gaze at it and also consider what it would feel like for the flower to look back at you. What it would be like to be in mutual relationship with all of Creation?

3. Oratio/Pray

Oratio is an opportunity to enter into dialogue with God, offering gratitude as well as lifting up your hopes, fears, and pains. In oratio, you are invited to surrender all of these things and allow God to transform you and the world through this encounter.

4. Contemplatio/Contemplate
Contemplatio is simply abiding in the presence of God. Rest joyfully in Mystery after lifting up your prayers and problems to God, confident that your needs are known.

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Lectio divina (Latin for sacred reading) is a contemplative way of reading, praying, and taking a long, loving look at Scripture or some other text. In lectio divina, God teaches us to listen for and seek God’s presence in silence. The text for this lectio practice is from Richard Rohr’s book The Universal Christ:

“A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else.” 

  1. With the first reading, allow yourself to settle in to the exercise and familiarize yourself with the words. Read the text out loud, very slowly and clearly. Pause for a breath or two before moving on.
  2. For the second reading, listen from a centered heart space and notice any word or phrase that stands out to you.
  3. After a few moments of silence, read the text a third time, reflecting on how this word or phrase is connected to your current life experience. Take a minute to linger over this word or phrase, to focus on it until it engages your body, your heart, your awareness of the physical [and unseen] world around you.You may want to speak a response aloud or write something in your journal.
  4. For the final reading, respond with a prayer or expression of what you have experienced, inviting the infinite wisdom of God to support you in places of unknowing, confusion, desire, or hope.

Leading in with the quotation below, practice a contemplative sit. You may wish to set a timer or digital prayer bell for 5, 10, or 20 minutes, so that you know when to finish.

Seat yourself in a quiet area. Once you are settled, read the passage aloud again:

“A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else.”

  • Notice any tightness in your shoulders and neck and allow any tension in your muscles to relax.
  • Allow your back to rest in an aligned, neutral position.
  • Ground yourself and allow your breathing to settle. Then read the following aloud:I am not trying to “achieve” anything. (Pause) There are no goals. (Pause) I am simply becoming aware of this moment. (Pause) Becoming aware of my presence in this moment. (Pause) As I notice any distractions, thoughts, judgments, decisions, ideas that cross my mind, I let them go for now (Pause), focusing instead on my moment-by-moment experience of being present to What Is. (Pause) God’s Presence. (Pause) The Larger Field. (Pause) En Cristo. (Pause)
  • Ring a prayer bell to indicate that the contemplative sit has begun.