The Word of God

O give thanks to the Lord for He is good

Ps 117

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord

Ps 129
The Word of God in Sacred Scripture is
"a lamp for our steps, a light for our path" (Ps 118)
Lord, you know all my longing

Ps 37

Lord, let your compassion hasten to meet us

Ps 68

Lectern in our chapel

Through the Word, we enter into all the joys and sorrows of humanity, the mysteries of life and death,
the craving for love, for peace, for unity.

Our Carmelite Rule bids us to ponder the Lord's law day and night. We long, like Mary, to hear the Word and do it; to live on the gospel, like St Thérèse. It is there we meet Jesus and grow into His mind and heart. 

The Word of God fills each day - we hear it at Mass, and each time we come together for the Liturgy of the Hours. Each of us also takes time each day to ponder the Scriptures during our personal prayer/reading time, and we find the method of Lectio Divina most helpful (see outline below). This is a popular way of praying with Scripture that dates back to the early centuries when monks would pray deeply with a single passage of Scripture learnt off by heart. They carried this Word of God with them throughout the day, into their ordinary routine of work in the monastery, meaning that they contemplated the Word constantly; ruminating on it like 'chewing the cud'!!. 

Once a week we come together for a group Lectio Divina, and we gain great insight and spiritual nourishment from listening to each other. We marvel at the many different reflections that can result from even a very short Gospel passage. This is a demonstration of the power of the Word of God, to speak to each person individually in their lives. (Below are some guidelines for a group Lectio Divina session).

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Before beginning select the text from Scripture that you will use. Try not to choose too long an extract. It is a good idea to choose the Mass reading for that day, or the Gospel for the following Sunday.
Take a few moments to be quiet and still. Then, call on the Holy Spirit to be with you, to help you to understand the Word that you will be reflecting on.

Lectio (Read): Read the text slowly over and over again, and if possible aloud. Become familiar with the characters and their actions. What kind of text is it? What are the action words? What does the text say in itself?

Meditatio (Meditate): Put your imagination to work and enter into the text. Which of the characters are you in the text? What does the text say to you? Stay with one of the characters or a phrase for some time.

Oratio (Pray): Respond to the text by prayer - a spontaneous response to God that draws from the actual words of the text. Prayer can be in praise, thanksgiving, repentance or petition.

Contemplatio (Contemplate): Continue to savour the Word, now more deeply rooted within you, during your normal daily life so that all your actions and circumstances are made and experienced in the light of the Word.

In a group setting the following structure may be helpful:

  • Nominate a leader for the session. Gather in a circle, with perhaps a lighted candle at the centre.
  • Invite everyone to be silent for a few minutes, and then the leader could say a short prayer to the Holy Spirit.
  • Read the text two or three times slowly - different people can be invited to do this. Pause between each reading for reflection.
  • After the last reading, invite everyone to share what word or phrase particulary strikes them.
  • Return to pondering and meditating on the text, and then invite anyone who wishes to share their reflection with the group. 
  • Finish by inviting everyone to sum up their meditation with a short prayer.

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