Religious Life

Contemplative Silence, Lectio Divina

CONTEMPLATIVE SILENCE

The silence that arises in Contemplative Prayer is integral to Catholic life. This is not that silence of denial and obfuscation. It is not the ground which favors falsity, injustice, repression, and oppression. The silence of Christian contemplative prayer opens in mystery on a promising invitation to abide in and share more deeply the love of God. One of the Doctors of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila, observed: "Contemplative prayer [oracion mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us." (St. Teresa of Jesus, The Book of Her Life, 8,5 in The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976), I,67.) And, "Contemplative prayer seeks him 'whom my soul loves '." Song 1:7; cf. 3:14.

  • See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part IV: Christian Prayer
  • Check out a March, 2014 post about Silence and Lent at "Busted Halo, An Online Magazine for Spiritual Seekers"
  • Bud McFarlane, founder of "Catholicity" offers a folksy and practical invitation to enter into the practice of contemplative prayer in the Roman Catholic tradition at "Catholicity: "Giving God Twenty".
  • To consider: Pope Francis: the silence that is the force of the Spirit, the mystery of our path in the life with the Lord.Video Excerpt of Homily. And, Full text of homily: Silence and the Shadow of God.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church expands on contemplative prayer as a 'gaze of faith', 'hearing', a union in mystery and the night of the soul'. It is also silence, "the 'symbol of the world to come' or 'silent love.' Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the 'outer' man (sic), the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus." (CCC Par 2717).


    LECTIO DIVINA

    Lectio Divina is a type of meditative prayer that can have great value to the Christian disciple. For those within the Catholic tradition, a word of wisdom: meditative prayer "engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him." (CCC Par 2708) There are various approaches to Lectio Divina. Here are several offered on Youtube.
  • -- Jim Martin, SJ shows how to practice Lectio Divina Jim Martin, SJ
  • -- View a heartfelt production with the 4 steps is at CatholicProductions: Lectio Divina.
  • -- For a wonderful introduction to Lectio Divina from within the Benedictine tradition visit the Monks of Conception Abbey: Lectio Divina.