In our first Advent reflections I offered an encouragement to take time during these Advent days to be still and silent perhaps a couple of times each day and to know the presence of God.
I also emphasised that it doesn’t matter too much what happens during these two or three or five or minutes: simply begin by speaking directly to Jesus, and conclude the time (perhaps when you phone timer rings at the set time) to again speak directly to Jesus. Don’t worry about what happens or does not happen in the middle – that’s God’s work and responsibility.
We give God the gift of this time knowing that He never misses any opportunity that we give when we desire to experience Him in our lives.
Because most of us are raised/trained/brainwashed to use every moment is a visibly productive manner, the idea of wasting time (even a few minutes) with God might not come naturally for us. We have to practice this art, and we do this because something inside us tells us that there is more to life than being visibly productive. Our healthy human instinct nudges us to waste time with God, and we are prepared to do this because we only waste time with those we love.
Because our desire in prayerful stillness and silence is to hear Jesus speak directly to us, anything we can do to encourage this is a great help. We know the scriptures to be the Word of God, and the Gospels see the Word of God take form in human actions and take voice in human words in Jesus.
So, how might we use the gospels in prayer?
Here is a form widely known as “Lectio Divina” or “divine reading.” This is not a set formula, rather a general start-up guide.
- Decide on a short passage of scripture that you will use for the reflection, perhaps the gospel of the day which can be found at this link.
- Be still and silent, if you find it helpful to set a timer so that you don’t clock-watch then do this. Take a few deep breaths to help relaxation and know that Jesus is gazing at you with love. Expect Jesus to speak to you in some way.
- Read the passage of scripture slowly and reflectively, noticing any word or phrase that attracts you or seems to speak to you.
- Take a few moments to savour the word or phrase.
- Read the passage again, listening attentively for what you sense Jesus may be saying to you.
- Now simply be still and silent until you are ready to end, and again speak to Jesus directly in your own words. Be specific in asking for what you need and thanking him for his presence.
After using this guide a couple of times you will get the idea and might reduce it to a few key points.
Try this now using today’s gospel, Matthew 28:11-30
Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Recently the Archdiocese of Wellington New Zealand has been promoting Lectio Divina.
As a part of this teaching the 2011 brochure of the New Zealand Bishops’ has been used.
You can find a printable brochure by clicking on the images below:
The Catholic diocese of Christchurch New Zealand has promoted resources for a group experience of Lectio Divina. If you would like to receive these resources please contact
Matt O’Connell, Evangelisation Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org.
He has prepared four brochures for group use and will email these to you.