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Intro to Lent 2022

For those of you attending our virtual Bible Study, you know that right now, we are using Rev. Dr. Barbara L. Peacock's book, Soul Care in African American Practice. Each week, we've looked at the lives of African Americans and discussed their spiritual disciplines. In the accompanying workbook, Dr. Peacock recommends a few spiritual disciplines that she uses. For Lent 2022, I want to introduce them to you. They are Lectio Divina, Visio Divina, and Musica Divina. And on the days when we don't have those practices, you may get a poem I've written or a link to an old sermon.

I want to give you the outline now so you will be aware that this is probably something different for you. Don't worry about trying to remember it all today. Whatever discipline we choose for the day, you'll get the instructions in the daily post.

What is Lectio Divina?

Lectio Divina (Latin for "Divine Reading") is a traditional monastic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's Word. It does not treat scripture as texts to be studied, but as the living, breathing, speaking Word.

Traditionally, Lectio Divina has four separate steps: read; meditate; pray; contemplate. For us, we are going to add two additional steps, one from Dr. Peacock and another from Father Josh (see YouTube video below).  The steps we will use are outlined below.

Lectio Divina Steps

  1. Silencio: First, be still. Quiet yourself. Take some deep breaths as you inhale and exhale. It will help to sit back in your chair, put your hands on your lap, and gently close your eyes. Honor God’s presence in your sacred space.
  2. Lectio: Reading the Word of God is the second step. As you prayerfully read the passage, revere God’s holy Scriptures. Slow down and listen in silence as you anticipate experiencing the awesomeness of God's holy voice. Pray that God would speak to you in a way different from any reading encounter you’ve had in the past.
  3. Meditatio: Meditation is the third step. Meditating on God’s Word is similar to chewing on a passage. Through meditation, allow God’s Word to be fully digested into your very being. Imagine a cow chewing its cud. While chewing, the cow turns the food over and over in its mouth. In meditation, we turn God’s Word over and over in our mind. Your desire is that God’s Word will touch you at a depth you have not experienced before.
  4. Oratio: The prayer phase is the fourth step. Oh how precious is this sacred time! Oratio calls you to go even deeper in your discipline of sacred reading. During a loving, intimate conversation with your Creator, allow the Word of God to transform you from the inside out. Accept God's warm and precious embrace during this time.
  5. Contemplatio: Contemplation is the final step of your sacred reading. During this time, God is calling you to rest in God's holy presence. Rest as you solely focus on God's Word. Receive God's divine Spirit of holiness during this process of transformation. Let go of preconceptions. Let go of your own words, and embrace God's love and God's Word. Settle down and enjoy just being with God. Rest in that space.
  6.  Action: After we have this time of prayer and meditation, before we get up and go, we must ask God (and ourselves): what must I do with what I've read? How can I live this out in my daily life? 

What is Visio Divina?

Visio Divina (Latin for "Divine Seeing") is an ancient spiritual discipline that calls us to see spiritually beyond the actual photo, illustration, or picture. Our mental and spiritual reflections cause us to sink deep into the revelations that can be found within the image. Such spiritual insight is revealed only by the person of the Holy Spirit. It allows one to draw closer to God through an image. Visio divina invites you to the artistic call of seeing more creatively. It invites you to see all there is to see with a thirst for a continuous and transformative revelation of what you are viewing. Such insight requires seeing beyond one's immediate first impressions. This reflective insight calls the soul to travel with and beyond the artist’s medium.

Visio Divina Steps

  1. As you gaze at the image, notice your breath and your body. 
  2. Allow the image to speak to your heart. Is God speaking to you in this image?  
  3. How do you feel looking at the image? 
  4. If you had to describe the image in a sentence or two to yourself, what would you say? 
  5. If you were in the image, where would you place yourself? 
  6. Do you get a glimpse of the sacred from this image? 
  7. In silence, sit with what you have received. 

What is Musica Divina?

While lectio divina is a traditional way of listening to a spiritual reading with the ear of the heart, in Musica Divina we listen to a short piece of music with the ear of the heart. We may hear God speaking to us through the music or simply rest in God’s presence as we listen to it. 

Musica Divina Steps

  1. Find a quiet place to sit comfortably and settle in.
  2. Take several slow, deep, centering breaths to bring yourself into a more prayerful state.
  3. Listen to the musical selection. If lyrics are provided, pay close attention to the words.
  4. Choose a phrase or phrases that resonate with you and take a moment to repeat them silently to yourself. Use your breath to pace the words.
  5. Listen a second time, focusing on the feel of the music and the imagery that it brings, perhaps imagery associated with the phrase you chose.
  6. Listen a third time if possible, taking in the whole piece but connecting especially with the phrases you chose.
  7. Sit in silence. Let the thoughts and feelings that the music has inspired wash through you.
  8. How is God speaking to you through the music you chose to pray with today? If you keep a journal, write your thoughts or feelings now, perhaps expressing gratitude for this quiet time with God. If not, close your session with a short prayer.

I'm excited for this journey and so glad you're with me. Let's do this!