Why priests should do lectio divina outside of a homiletic context

On page 454 of his article, “Are You Afraid of the Thief?” A Cordial Approach to Lectio Divina, Simeon Leiva-Merikakis explains why lectio should be pursued for its own sake and not simply for homily prep.

Lectio should be “disinterested” in the sense of being without predetermined goals or functions, in the same way, that the so-called “liberal arts” are free because they are their own end.

And, just as the study of the liberal arts (reading great literature, for instance, or studying philosophy) should transform the whole person practicing it rather that produce anything extrinsic, so too lectio affects directly only the person doing it.

It is quite distinct, for instance, from working on a biblical text in order to prepare the Sunday homily or a Bible study session.

However, just as a liberal arts education affects everything a person may henceforth do because it has radically changed him or her at the core, the practice of lectio will paradoxically be all the more fruitful for a priest’s or a teacher’s homiletic or classroom effectiveness in proportion as it has no intentional connection with preaching the Word.

Lectio should be thought of as belonging deep within the spiritual life of the priest or teacher, as the privileged wellspring and sustaining ground of his prayer.

Lectio will bear the fruits that only it can produce precisely if it is cultivated for its own sake.

For, as we have already said, the apostolate is a byproduct of a person’s union with Christ.

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