by MARTIN DE JONG
Accounts from Lower Hutt suggest an introduction to praying the Gospel using Lectio Divina in Wellington archdiocese Masses on Sunday, October 29, went down well.
The process of Lectio Divina (meaning “reading with God”) involved reading the Gospel aloud twice, with half a minute silence between. Then the reader led the congregation through meditating silently on words, images or ideas that struck them, to lead them into a prayerful response to those words, images and ideas, and coming to rest in God’s presence.
Mary Aiga of Naenae attended the 10am service at Our Lady of the Rosary church and described the experience as “wonderful”. It was a good complement to her family’s practice of praying and sharing on Scripture every second day.
Joanne Gomez, who led parishioners through the Lectio Divina noticed that, “Even the little children — they were quiet”.
Msgr Charles Cooper, based at Eastbourne, said that at each of the Masses he celebrated, “There was a noticeable silence in the church and at the end, a sense of stillness and quiet. After the Masses, quite a number of people made encouraging and positive comments”.
Archbishop of Wellington Cardinal John Dew asked all parishes in the archdiocese to use Lectio Divina on this particular Sunday to help a prayerful encounter with the Sunday Gospel. This meant only the Sunday Gospel was used in place of all three readings and the homily. Some parishes also left out the creed and prayers of the faithful, so that prayerful reflection on the Gospel led straight into the eucharistic liturgy.
It was one of various initiatives throughout the country to promote Lectio Divina and deeper reflection on Sacred Scripture, in light of Pope Francis’ encouragement in Misericordia et Misera, his letter closing the Year of Mercy, in which he said: “It would be beneficial if every Christian community, on one Sunday of the liturgical year, could renew its efforts to make the Sacred Scriptures better known and more widely diffused. It would be a Sunday given over entirely to the Word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people.”
Lectio Divina is an ancient form of prayer in the Church, aimed at a prayerful encounter with God through Sacred Scripture. While it has its origins in monastic life, it is now used by lay people and religious alike. A short guide to Lectio Divina was put out by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference in 2011, and remains available.