Tips for the 2nd Step of Lectio Divina (“Meditatio”)

“Meditation is a prayerful quest engaging thought, imagination, emotion, and desire” (CCC 2723).

Christian meditation makes full use of the intellect in an effort to understand God’s Word and to hear God’s voice. We are to have the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). Whereas eastern meditation tries to empty the mind, Christian prayer seeks to fill the mind with an attentiveness to God.

  • “This gentle but purposeful effort will yield a constant aiming and re-aiming of our hearts and minds toward Him and His Word” (Dan Burke).
  • “The goal of meditation is not to reflect on the highest number of items, but rather to go where the Spirit leads us. During our lectio or meditatio, our heart might be stirred by one particular observation. Stop there. Don’t just continue onto the next thing. Take time to go deeper and let the Holy Spirit move your meditatio to the next stage of your journey through lectio divina. It is what some call the longest road in the world… the journey from the head to the heart” (Fr. Jacques Philippe, Thirsting for Prayer, 75).

Christian meditation is the work of finding food for the mind, and the most nutritious food of all is the Word of God.

  • “Realize that “meditating” in the biblical tradition means not so much reflecting as murmuring, repeating, ruminating. To begin with, it is more of a physical activity than an intellectual one. When a verse attracts our attention, we should not fear to repeat it over and over again, because it is often through such rumination that it will release its deep meaning, what God wants to say to us today through that verse” (Fr. Jacques Philippe, Thirsting for Prayer, 122).
  • Sometimes it is helpful to slowly repeat the passage or word over and over again until the captivation and conversation with God on the passage subsides.

download“Ask great questions”

In meditatio, we need to ask questions to aid our prayerful quest for answers. We act like a detective and dialogue with the text as though it were a person, asking it questions and listening for responses within us.

  1. Scripture text – What is happening in this scene? How is each person reacting? What stood out to me (word, phrase, image, person)? Why?
  2. Now – How does this Word apply to my life right now? in regards to how I feel emotionally? spiritually? physically?
  3. Future – How does this Word apply to the upcoming events of this day? How can I live out this Word today? How does this Word apply to my calling in life? my vocation? to my discernment? to my role as a father/mother/husband/wife, worker, etc? Jesus, how do you want me to live this out today?
  4. Mary – How does this Word apply to Mary? to my relationship with her? how does she exemplify this Word? to incarnate this Word?
  5. Eucharist – How does this Word apply to the Eucharist? How can it prepare me to better receive my next Communion?

Pope Francis on applying Scripture in Evangelii Gaudium

153. In the presence of God, during a recollected reading of the text, it is good to ask, for example: “Lord, what does this text say to me? What is it about my life that you want to change by this text? What troubles me about this text? Why am I not interested in this? Or perhaps: What do I find pleasant in this text? What is it about this word that moves me? What attracts me? Why does it attract me?” When we make an effort to listen to the Lord, temptations usually arise. One of them is simply to feel troubled or burdened, and to turn away. Another common temptation is to think about what the text means for other people, and so avoid applying it to our own life. It can also happen that we look for excuses to water down the clear meaning of the text. Or we can wonder if God is demanding too much of us, asking for a decision which we are not yet prepared to make. This leads many people to stop taking pleasure in the encounter with God’s word; but this would mean forgetting that no one is more patient than God our Father, that no one is more understanding and willing to wait. He always invites us to take a step forward, but does not demand a full response if we are not yet ready. He simply asks that we sincerely look at our life and present ourselves honestly before him, and that we be willing to continue to grow, asking from him what we ourselves cannot as yet achieve.

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