Practical Suggestions on Spiritual Reading

Sacred-Reading-9780892438914

 

On Reading:

 

 

Here are some excerpts from “Sacred Reading” by Michael Casey (Ligouri, 1996)

 

  • Time: The best plan is to identify a brief daily slot that we could devote to our sacred reading – with a backup if necessary.  The main thing is to be realistic….It is better for morale to spend 5 minutes once a day and stick with it, than to pan on a longer duration and fail to find time.
  • Text selection: Read repeatedly from a single book of the bible – starting with one of the 4 gospels – and spend from 3 to 6 months in that book.
  • Ambience:  If you do your lectio divinia in areas associated with other activities, don’t be surprised if you are assailed by distractions…The first requirement is a degree of privacy.  The Gospels tell us as much (Matthew 6:6).
  • Lighting:  Whereas meditation often works best in dimness, spiritual reading obviously needs sufficient light o read the text comfortably.  For some people a large print Bible is a good idea.  Often some sort of bookstand can be helpful to get the page at the best angle and distance.
  • Routine.   Many people find that the repetition of customary actions is a great help in dropping off to sleep…the same kind of process can often help us in our prayer related activities.
  • Prayer.  Sometimes prayer wells us naturally during our reading; in such cases we do not need much external guidance.  At other times our reading may seem dry, and then we have to prime the pump.  If no prayer rises spontaneously from the text, we have to make a positive effort to add prayer.
    • E.g. Begin with a Psalm, or just one section of Psalm 119, this psalm is a celebration of the gift of God’s word, and saying part of it reflectively before we begin our reading helps unstill in us that spirit of joyful reference that makes us sensitive to its inner meaning.
  • Active Reading:  Spiritual reading is like reading poetry:  We need to slow down, to savor what we read, and to allow the text to trigger memories and associations that reside below the threshold of awareness.
  • Notes:  “…we may wish to compile a florigelium as the ancient monks did, writing a verse or two in of our daily reading in a book, so that gradually we build up an anthology of texts that have spoken to us.

 

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