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Praying With Mary View Comments
By Stephen J. Binz

THE LIFE of Mary, mother of the Word of God, can show us how to read the Bible in a personal,
prayerful and transforming manner. This way of listening to God’s word in Scripture is traditionally called lectio divina, an ancient practice by which prayerful listening to the text leads to a transforming encounter
with God. The ancient practice of lectio divina is experiencing a revival today throughout the worldwide church. Pope Benedict has said: “If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the church — I am convinced of it — a new spiritual springtime. ... The ancient tradition of lectio divina should be encouraged through the use of new methods, attentively pondered, adapted to the time.” Because this ancient approach to Scripture is rooted in the Judaism of Mary’s time, she can show us the way to enter an intimate relationship with God through the sacred pages. In the synagogue, Jewish teachers taught their disciples to immerse themselves in prayerfully reading the sacred scrolls. Because the text itself is sacred, the ark containing the biblical scrolls is sacred space in the synagogue, with lamps burning around it, proclaiming God’s holy presence. Through reading, meditation and prayer of the Tanakh — the Torah, prophets and writings of Scripture — the faithful open themselves to God’s presence. This way of reading Scripture was then nurtured throughout the centuries of Christianity, especially through the desert fathers and mothers, the patristic writers and the monastic tradition. Though there have been many expressions of lectio divina through the centuries, the practice is usually presented in five movements: lectio, meditatio,
oratio, contemplatio
and operatio — each of which is exemplified in the heart-centered life of Mary.
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Stephen J. Binz, a Catholic biblical scholar, has written Conversing With God in Scripture: A Contemporary Approach to Lectio Divina (Word Among Us Press) and Ancient-Future Bible Study (Brazos Press).

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Katharine Drexel: If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that. 
<p>She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. </p><p>She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s <i>A Century of Dishonor</i>. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities. </p><p>Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions. </p><p>She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!” </p><p>After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. </p><p>Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans. </p><p>At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.</p> American Catholic Blog Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and see where we’ve allowed darkness to creep in, where we’ve taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It’s time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.


 
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