The Benedictines have a special way of study that we all could put into daily practice. Every monk was expected to spend part of his day in study. Not only did they spend time reading the scriptures, but they are active in every area of study from medicine to sociology and psychology, engineering and theology, to science and agriculture. The STEM programs that are practiced in schools would not be alien to them. Every Benedictine is expected to become an educated person in their chosen field of study.
One particular way of reading the scriptures, according to Father Longenecker in “Saint Benedict for Busy Parents,” is Lectio Divina, which can be translated as “devout reading.” We often read the daily scriptures or our devotionals in an attempt to just get it done or to skip over them so that we can get onto other things. That is not prayerful.
When practicing Lectio Divina, one must set aside a few minutes, perhaps as much as half an hour, when reading. The practice of Lectio Divina requires that we don’t just gobble down what we read, but savor each bite, each word or each phrase, so as to let the Holy Spirit speak to us. In Lectio Divina, we use our imaginations to put ourselves at the scene of the Bible story or writing, so that we listen to what the Holy Spirit is revealing to us. We slow down. We read the passage a few times, slowly. We let God’s word wash over us, opening us to his grace.
One of my experiences with Lectio Divina came on Advent Season when I was reading the story of the Annunciation, when Angel Gabriel visited Mary to let her know that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus. As I was slowly reading it and giving it my fullest attention, I thought, “I wonder what Jesus was doing during this time?” The answer came to me, imagining that Jesus, looking down from heaven, was saying, “Say yes! Say yes! I want you to be my mom!” I was deeply touched and moved, still am today.
It is not enough for Christians to only have a rudimentary understanding of their faith, the Bible, history of the world, the sciences, and all areas of study. Many of us still have the same knowledge of the sacraments and the church, and the Bible that we had when we entered high school. It is not enough. Our faith is under attack by those who want to destroy our faith, and we are not able to defend our faith, let alone proclaim it.
Only through continued study, reading, can we intelligently keep our faith. Attend adult education at your parish. Join a faith sharing group. Get on the internet to locate faith programs and seminars. Research offerings from the diocese and take them. Google faith education, The Knights of Columbus, The Augustine Institute or just call your church office and ask for where you can get more education. Read books. You won’t regret it.
“May the Lord bless and keep you. May he let his face shine upon you and give you his peace.”