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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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Nativity of St. John the Baptist: Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John....” But John would have agreed completely with what Jesus added: “[Y]et the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28). 
<p>John spent his time in the desert, an ascetic. He began to announce the coming of the Kingdom, and to call everyone to a fundamental reformation of life. </p><p>His purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. His Baptism, he said, was for repentance. But One would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John is not worthy even to carry his sandals. His attitude toward Jesus was: “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). </p><p>John was humbled to find among the crowd of sinners who came to be baptized the one whom he already knew to be the Messiah. “I need to be baptized by you” (Matthew 3:14b). But Jesus insisted, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15b). Jesus, true and humble human as well as eternal God, was eager to do what was required of any good Jew. John thus publicly entered the community of those awaiting the Messiah. But making himself part of that community, he made it truly messianic. </p><p>The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itself—both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. John attracted countless people (“all Judea”) to the banks of the Jordan, and it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But he constantly deferred to Jesus, even to sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus. </p><p>Perhaps John’s idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God was not being perfectly fulfilled in the public ministry of Jesus. For whatever reason, he sent his disciples (when he was in prison) to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer showed that the Messiah was to be a figure like that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah (chapters 49 through 53). John himself would share in the pattern of messianic suffering, losing his life to the revenge of Herodias.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us pray to Our Lady, that she may protect us. In times of spiritual upset, the safest place is within the folds of her garments.

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