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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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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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