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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