Lectio: Listening as Communion

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Part of "Lectio: Listening with the Heart"

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Since, by your obedience to the Truth, you have purified yourselves, so that you can experience the genuine love of brothers and sisters, love each other intensely from the heart. For your new birth was not from any perishable seed, but from imperishable seed, the living and enduring Word of God. For all humanity is grass, and all its beauty like the wildflowers. As grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord remains forever. And this Word is the good news that has been brought to you. Rid yourselves, then, of all spite, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and carping criticism. Like newborn babies, all your longing should be for milk, the unadulterated spiritual milk,


which will help you to grow up to salvation. At any rate, if you have tasted, that the Lord is good. So we have arrived at our last reflection together. Before I launch off into that, by way of a few helpful references, in the bookstore we have this classic book on prayer by André Loup, who is a French Trappist, who is a superb writer, and has a wonderfully deep insight into the deepest traditions of the monastic and the contemplative life. And he has a section here on the Word, the Living Word, Chapter 4.


But really the whole thing would be worth your while. It's just superb. I never hesitate to recommend it to anybody. So that's in the bookstore, if you want to read a little bit more on this. Then in terms of, I mentioned biblical studies, it's good to have a general framework within which we listen to the Word, and so on the side you get some biblical studies as we go along. And when I say a framework, I don't mean an airtight kind of thing, or a context within which we listen. That would be mostly, I don't mean this, a box, which you might even be tempted to really think of a double-walled enclosure, or something like that, and then you listen to the Word and it has to fit into this mindset. But rather, a rather loose context within which we listen to the Word that's very fluid, and that's porous. Allows things to come in and things to go out, and it's not really rigid.


So it's a framework that my own studies, of course, that framework's always there when I listen, but it doesn't confine or constrict the Word, and more importantly the Spirit who is leading me with the Word. So now there are many, many things out. I'm just throwing a few because we happen to, these are from the bookstore, and I think they're the only two left, but we can reorder them. And there are new things that have come out, Theme Perkins, who has produced many other wonderful things, it's reading the New Testament, and it's a wonderful general overview. It doesn't get nitty-gritty or specific, you know, generally you want to find a general approach when you go to Scripture, and then if you want to specialize, you get a book on some special area on this prop, and some of them are so specialized that it can be on one theme in a particular book of the Scriptures. But for Lectio, I think that it's good to just have this general understanding, and


so this is not too terribly demanding, you know, it's 300 pages, and there are diagrams and it's spaced well, it's not too dense, the writing. And it gives you a general sense, you know, we don't have to worry about a lot of specifics right away, but just to get a general sense. And then this is another one, not by her, but by Lawrence Brote, Reading of the Old Testament, but it's the same idea, reading the new, reading the old. They're not written for scholars, they're written for the person who just wants to start out with a general framework. This one runs for $8.95, and this one for $9.95, and Paulus Press produces themes, and also the second one, Lawrence Brote, and as it says, it's an introduction, and it's the same kind of thing as that, it's the same approach.


So this could be a well-worth investment. Now another thing that is excellent, we don't have the entire set, I forget how many in the entire set, maybe 13 or 14 volumes, and you can get it in paperback now, and it's called the New Testament, it's only out in the New Testament as far as I know, the New Testament for Spiritual Reading for Lectio. These were not written specifically with Lectio in mind, so you'll just get kind of a modern exegetical scholarship and historical background, but this specifically keeps in mind, without doing Lectio for you, they're very careful not to go too far into things, but to give you some leads to show you the idea, and it's edited by John McKenzie, who's a certainly well-known Catholic biblical scholar, the New Testament for Spiritual Reading, and of course there are different authors, and now this publisher is Crossroads, but I've been


told that it's being published by somebody else now in paperback. I think the whole thing, which even I would like to get, I'm waiting until somebody says, is there anything you need? One of my relatives, they're always asking that, and I say no, no, so I've already checked this out with Father Romulan, who's our book person, and so I would like to get the whole series, and I remember we looked it up, and it was something like $130 for all the volumes, so it's not, you know, in the paperback, it's very reasonable, and it's a good investment, and as I say, it's doing it with an eye towards Lectio, you know, that's the whole purpose of it. So it doesn't lose you in a lot of technicalities and stuff like that, it's very good. We have just three, there's three volumes just on John's Gospel alone, and we have those, I'm sure, because of Father Bruno's extreme interest in the Gospel of John, so this is


another good investment. So those are just a few things that I wanted to mention. There's another book which I couldn't find, I went over it quickly, I thought Father Romulan had reordered some by Thelma Hall called Too Deep for Words on Lectio. I don't know how much more you would get having attended this, it certainly is not as a deep exploration as these talks have been to Lectio. It's just kind of a primer, a little bit of a primer, and at least half the book are just texts from Scripture, you know, which you have your Scripture. I always have mixed feelings when people put so many quotations in there, it's almost as if she's concerned that maybe they don't have a Bible yet, and so to give some, and then she tells them to do Lectio on these texts, you know, that are there in the book. So it's, and it's a small, it's something like this, it's a small, thin thing, so you might want to check it out. Okay. Ah, another last thing, how many are going to be here for lunch?


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, okay. I needed to know that. You're invited to eat with the monks on the inside. So you can come on the inside, those of you who haven't. So after Mass, just kind of come around and follow your nose. There'll be somebody around to show you. Okay, we were talking about that second movement, not step, that second movement of the dance of Lectio, which was meditatio, as it's called in the tradition, meditation. And again, even that word meditation, midi, meaning the center, meditation is to go to the center, and so you're chewing in order to bring to the center the word, and you're chewing to break open, like when we chew food, the nutrients, the inner richness of this word. You're breaking it open, as when we chew food, and we start to break it down with the enzymes


and whatever in our mouth and in our throat and stomach and all of that. That's what you're doing, breaking it down to unlock the richness of that word. So I have a little bit more to say about meditatio, this movement. In reference to it, the parable of the seed in Matthew 13, verses one to nine, comes to mind. And if you remember that, it's very well known, and it's the different kinds of soil that the seed of the word falls upon. So as we're chewing, of course, what kind of soil are we? What is the nature of our receptivity comes into play there, and that's why I said that sometimes we're tempted to short-circuit the process at this stage. We may not like what we're tasting. We may not like what the word starts to do as it reads us, goes down, and seeks to bring us down into the depths. And if you remember, the first seed fell on the path, and if you know what the path is,


you might know from walking around here, it's hard, isn't it? It's been beaten down by the weight of people walking, and it's hard-packed, compacted earth, and it's very hard for seed to penetrate it. Plus, with more people walking on it, it might just penetrate the soles of somebody's shoes, it might be all it might do. So there's very little, if any, receptivity there, if that's the way we are. Now, if there's no porousness to us, some of us can have personalities that are extremely rigid and airtight, and that's the way we approach the world, and that's the way we approach life, and then we tend to then, of course, approach God, and approach religion, and approach scripture that way. And it just can't really break through the ground, that kind of compacted life. So what kind of soil am I as I'm chewing?


The second kind of soil, if you remember, was the rocky ground, which has a certain amount of loose soil, but rather shallow, superficial, and if you remember, the seed can't really establish any roots. And my prayer when I begin Lectio, if you remember yesterday, Lord, that my heart may be open to receive your word and allow it to take root in me. To really be rooted in me. So, and again, we may be all these kinds of soil at different times, there may be moments when I take the word, approach the word, and I really act like the footpath, and that's why I pay attention to who am I as I come to the text. Right now, am I really ready to read this text, to encounter the Lord? Right now I'm really kind of packed and tight, and not very receptive. Or I'm kind of rocky, I don't want to go, I'm tired from yesterday's Lectio, it just


knocked me down and dragged me all over the place, and I just want a nice light, like an escape movie, you know? We feel like, I just want something light, and I don't have to think too deeply. Well, we may sometimes come to the word that way, and then we're the rocky ground that particular day, or moment. The third kind of soil, if you remember, is the soil that has some depth, but there are other things in there as well. The weeds grow up with the wheat, with the word. These are the, at least in the text, the distractions of daily life, but I would say in a sense we are always, we always have weeds. Thomas Green, S.J., his book, Weeds Among the Wheat, is very insightful in this regard. And what I mean by that is when we go inward with the word, part of what the word exposes is precisely the weeds in our life. The many things that we are attached to, that have roots in us.


And some of them have deep roots in us. Some of them have roots into our heart. Not the cave of the heart, but going down that way. Our desires, our hungers, our thirst, we have many of them swimming around inside of us. So to me, there's always weeds, and that can be part of the fear of going inward, to face the truth about myself, that I may tell the Lord, Oh, the Lord, yes, you're everything, you're my whole life, but then as the word takes me in, what I really want to do is to realize, yeah, but I couldn't imagine living without A, B, C, and to face that honestly and to know that one doesn't lose the Lord's love because of those things. The Lord is aware of all of that, and is gently working with that, trying to lead us and unite all of our desires into one desire. God does not desire to uproot our desires. God's desire is to unite them all, to bring them into the one thing that is necessary,


which is the deepest desire of our heart. So we have to be careful in our own spiritual practice that we don't have some kind of a violent, ruthless approach, you know, I'm going to uproot this vice and uproot that and uproot this attachment. No, no, do it more positively, and that is try to unite them into the one, because the He needs them all. You need them all. It takes a lot of energy to go to the depths, and we squander our energy, don't we? That's the nature of sin and being broken. Our energy is going out in many different directions, and Lectio reveals that to us and tries to bring it into a unification, so that precisely we can have the energy to break through down into the cave of the heart, and the shrine in the cave of the heart, you know, into that Trinitarian presence.


So that's the process, looking at our compulsions. Compulsions require tremendous energy, away from what our heart really desires, and trying to kind of redirect those energies, our sexual energies. God needs all those, our passions, all of these are needed. And so it's merely a process of trying to unite them, and the Word does this. The Word is sort of like a mariner, you know, who throws his line with the rock or whatever it is over the side to always check the bottom, to make sure that to sound the depths. The Word is always sounding our depths, and revealing to us how close or how far we are from the bottom. And that can be embarrassing, you know, we might not want to sound our depths. So that's the weed soil, and then the last, if you remember, is the good soil, and that soil, something miraculous, there's the miraculous yield.


I forget if it's 10, 30, 100 fold, you know, something unbelievable, incalculable, unpredictable, because you're in a new dimension of reality when you get down there to that depth. You're in an unpredictable area, an area where you don't have control, so it's really miraculous, the kind of fecundity that is at that depth. So all of this is kind of there as we're doing this meditation, as we're chewing, what kind of soil am I today? And to notice, to notice what the Word is doing, to understand, yes, it's trying to bring me down, and yes, it's going to expose me, and that's okay not to be frightened, not to be embarrassed, certainly not for God's sake, because God knows us better than we know ourselves. And so, as we said, we're chewing and we're repeating,


going over phrases, words, or sometimes it's the whole text, you don't have to link on a word, I don't want to imply that from yesterday, sometimes it may not be a specific word, but just the whole story, you just kind of keep going over the parable, let's say, of the prodigal, or you may have stayed with certain words or phrases or sections, but then you're just kind of taking the whole thing in, as you go further along, and you're repeating, and this leads to a remembrance of the Word. The last half hour of my Lectio, I shut the Bible, I shut off my reading lamp, and just my candle is there, and the fire in my wood-burning stove is hopefully still going, and I'm in this darkness with just the candlelight, I close my eyes and I go over the story in my mind now, by memory. I don't memorize every little word, but I can pretty well get maybe 90%. I go over it slowly now, without anything there in front of me


to take part of my energy, but to just go in with the story. It's kind of like I'm breathing the story in that darkness, and just allowing it to take me. That's important because Lectio is a way of life. I'm meant to remember that story, that word, or parts of it, as the Spirit is guiding me throughout the day, so I have to have memorized a certain part of it. It may be one word becomes a mantra for today. It may be one scene in my prayer of the heart, which I do between vigils and lauds, I was sitting, and it was the scene of the Son coming, and the Father embracing and kissing, and saying, hurry, bring a robe and put it on him, put a ring on his finger.


Well, that was me. That's me every day. I'm always coming home every day. In my sitting, I was just really deeply, deeply moved by that word. But it was the scene, that particular scene. This morning, I've reflected on that all week, the Sundays we start earlier, our Lectio and that. For some reason this morning, I was led to that scene, and I could experience the embrace. I could experience the embrace of God. Another interesting thing that happens, which is very important, which this book shows you, is that as we are chewing and meditating and letting the word take us and sound our depths, we start to hear echoes.


We suddenly all become Swiss Alp climbers, hearing wonderful, wonderful echoes. There's one word spoken, but we hear echoes and echoes. And of course, this depends on how well I know the scriptures in general. The more I know the scriptures, as I'm focusing on one particular text, I start to hear other texts like echoes. So, the Gospel read at vigils is an echo of the Gospel read at lawns, which is the Mass Gospel. The lost sheep. When I first reflected on the Prodigal, I heard the echo of that text. Leaving the 99 and going for the 1. I was hearing echoes from the Old Testament, Israel is the lost sheep and I shall shepherd my people. These are echoes. Even though there's no sheep mentioned in the Prodigal, but it's really the same thing, another image,


but it's the same thing. And of course, the more you're familiar with these images, the longer you've been doing this kind of Lectio, they start to come in as echoes. And what happens then? There's like an expansion of the word. But more so, I would say, it's an expansion of you. Your mind and your heart start to expand. These echoes expand you. Or if you were like that box, these echoes start to bulge out the constrictions of your personality or of your approach to the Scriptures. There's just not enough room in the you that came to the text. You have to become more. And there's this amazing expansion and more images and more images


and more images and you keep being expanded and expanded and overwhelmed eventually. The classic approach to Scripture has always been Scripture interprets Scripture. And that's what's happening. These other texts, through the guidance of the Spirit, start to pop in your mind and they're interpreting the text of today. They're giving it richer and fuller understanding. They're not commentaries from any other, they're coming actually from the Scripture. Scripture interprets Scripture. The answer, well I don't want to use that word, the answer, the insight, the wisdom of Scripture is not outside Scripture. It's in Scripture. But many times it's not in the section you're reading. And so your familiarity you see with other sections becomes more and more important. And the more you become familiar, you'll notice. As you go over, let's say


a certain year, a text, oh I remember that three years ago, but you'll find more associations, more echoes. And you'll be amazed. It's at this point with these echoes and this expansion that we become like a mother giving birth to the Gospel inside us. You know, this expansion is like the unborn infant that starts the mother in the womb. You know, that just is running out of room. It has to come out. It has to be born. There's this birthing experience. We become like a mother giving birth to the Gospel. And we often can wrestle and labor and ache and groan as the received Word engages us


and grows in us and our depths and expands in us. Then the words of Luke chapter 8, verse 21 become fulfilled in us. The words of Jesus, my mother, my brothers, my sisters are those who hear the Word of God and do it. That text becomes fulfilled in me. We often can mistake Mary's greatness for her physical roles in providing a womb of flesh for God. But her greatest role, and that's why Jesus exclaims this, is the fact that she hears the Word of God and does it. That is her greatness through faith. Let it be done to me


as you say. The rest flows from that, but that is the most important moment of grace working in Mary. As Saint Augustine says, it's her heart that became impregnated. The womb came after that, but the most important thing is her heart received the Word and ascended. Something came to birth in her heart which then came to birth in her womb. And sometimes we can get a little bit too focused on her physical role. That can be dangerous in the sense that it sets her apart too much from the rest of the community because I can't physically in time and history give birth to Jesus. But I am called and Mary is a model of the church to give birth to the Word in my heart. So that's meditatio.


And this movement usually, and again we have to be very flexible with these things this is not the Arthur Murray dance studio, but usually there's kind of a movement that happens now that leads to what we call oratio or prayer. A prayer response to what the Word is doing in us. Our awareness of God's presence is changing through this process. This movement of Lectio is deepening is intensifying. A prayer response simply wells up within us coming from the deep recesses of the heart. So when I say prayer it is not the same kind of prayer with which we began our Lectio. That was what I would call


an intentional prayer. A planned prayer. A deliberate prayer. The prayer to the Spirit with which we open the text. This is not the same kind of prayer happening here. We don't suddenly decide at this point in the process of chewing the Word oh I think I'll stop here and say a prayer. What we discover is prayer happening in us and to us. All of its own. There is like a birthing of prayer. It is being born in us and coming up onto our lips in thanks or praise or perhaps our eyes filled with tears which is a prayer response. It is a prayer born of the heightened awareness of God's presence. God's


closeness. God's embrace and indwelling. It can be a prayer born of humility. A humble awareness of who I am in this presence. It can be an appeal for mercy. Sometimes words do not come in this prayer response but a deep, deep ache. A deep love wound. Sometimes the Word exposes some part of us that gives rise to this prayer. And we are aware of a purification going on. A stripping away a laying bare and that prayer rises out of our utter poverty our utter nakedness


our awareness of how empty and nothing we are unto ourselves and yet how full we are in the presence of this presence. Oftentimes we weep I weep because the words just do not come they just do not capture this prayer but it is something coming up from within and is a response to this presence. Sometimes the prayer might be like Peter's prayer Depart from me Lord for I am a sinner. Peter's awareness of who this Christ is standing in his boat. Or our prayer may be the opposite Do not depart from me Lord for without you I am lost. Without you I am nothing. This is the sense


of oratio. You can see it is quite different than the prayer you begin Alexio. It is quite a different kind of thing. And how long it lasts is inconsequential it is beyond your control or my control or our planning. It might only last 20 seconds it might go on for a half hour. Who cares? We are not talking about a step by step process but a movement of the spirit which might be different each time you encounter the word. One is hardly making calculating decisions at this point. One does not decide to prayer. This prayer happens on its own of its own and will subside on its own as you are led even deeper if that were ever thought possible but you will be led deeper beyond words beyond thought


And of course as we go to these last two elements it is hard to say a lot. I can't say any more than that about oratio. I just don't know what else to say and it is even harder to say something about the next movement and remember these are descriptive kind of things from the experience of long term lifelong practitioners of Lectio They are not concrete step by step things One doesn't end and the other begin in a kind of strict sense I want to keep repeating that in the image of the dance So the next movement we call contemplatio the tradition calls that contemplation and we have to be careful here because that doesn't mean we weren't contemplating before as I said, it doesn't mean we weren't aware


of God's presence already. If one is growing from Lectio one carries with one an awareness of God's presence all the time but through the engagement with the word that awareness undergoes some kind of a change, some kind of a transformation, some kind of a difference So what I talk about now is merely through this process a change that seems to occur or can occur. And if this doesn't happen please don't feel that you somehow didn't make it, you didn't arrive This is when we usually enter the great silence of God what we call contemplatio, what they mean by that We enter the great silence of God like plunging


into a vast ocean or a bottomless abyss or an empty desert with nothing to see or do or say or think no object to look at but to just be there still wide open wide awake communing with God as Trinity as love being poured out, received and returned We could call this I'm hesitant to call it, but we could call it the culminating moment, the crowning moment


the peak moment of the process of Lectio It's the moment in silence and adoration before the holy mystery of God which is really the goal of Lectio in the whole Christian life And that is why the Vatican II documents, the document on the liturgy, Sacred Liturgy says it is when we come together at liturgy and worship and praise God that we are most Church Not when we're doing good acts of mercy are we most Christian, most Church, it's when we are worshiping, because that is our future, that is our destiny that we partake in to some degree here It is a foretaste So this is kind of a remaining in


God's love, to use John's words It is like an interior gaze where we see in faith in faith rather, the hidden face of God I'm going to speak paradoxically now, I don't mean you see an image It's where we see in faith the hidden face of God, face to face with our own hidden face. How do you like that? We see in faith the hidden face of God, face to face with our own hidden face. This is the deep unitive experience where a person realizes they are in God and God is in them, and that there's nowhere left to go. There's nothing left to achieve. There's nothing more to get


There's no more to desire or strive for There's nothing more to acquire You are there One can only rest Be still and be It's there that one discovers the I am that dwells in the I am who am It's as if taking that other line from scripture where Jesus speaks about prayer, ask and you shall receive seek and you shall find knock and it shall be opened unto you. We saw that as a movement of prayer. It's as if we move through asking to seeking the Lord through the word seeking with the word to the depths. But this is like the


last, it's when we come in, we knock and we enter into this inner shrine of the heart, this inner space and we visit We're not there to borrow a cup of sugar We're there to be with the other with the beloved. For no ulterior motives Not to get holier Not to be changed This is why this process of getting there is such a purification process because we do go with the word for a lot of ulterior motives It's just natural It is at this deepest level that we experience the oneness of God and all reality We experience a profound communion with God


with the deepest self that we are The one that Paul says is hidden with God and Christ Communion with God, the deepest self and all the world It is a mysterious moment of utter solitude alone small a with the alone big A As well as a profound union paradox for one is at the source of all that is in this space that we're talking about The unity is the unity of solitude says Merton says In the depths of my heart I discover my solitude in union with the solitude of God and the solitude of every living thing


And this is the reflection of the Trinity The unity of the Trinity does not threaten the diversity of the Trinity nor does the diversity threaten the unity But actually the stronger each one is the more it strengthens the other That is the paradox that we are made in the image of So for the Christian anyway it's not a melding we're talking about It's not a blenderizing of beings and presences and personalities It's the most profound union and yet there is a distinctiveness And so at this stage contemplatio we are now savoring we're more than tasting as we did in meditatio tasting and breaking open now we're savoring the sweetness of the word


as it leads us to our true and lasting home Very mysterious line in the Wizard of Oz Whether the writers really meant it is a very profound truth Home is where the heart is The word has taken us up the Ganges as the Hindu Sadhu, the monks who reach this stage in their monastic development where they even reject the monastery and the support of the monastery and their fellow monks and they become beggars and they start with the rivulets and the tributaries of the Ganges the ten thousand and one things and they find they journey their way of course it's an outer thing reflecting an inner thing obviously as they go to the source of this great river that's what the word has done to us It takes us all the way up or all the way down


depending whatever as you remember in this whole thing up is down and down is up right that's why Benedict in his rule talks about the ladder of humility one goes up by going down and if you try to go up you will find yourself down so it's better to go down than you'll find yourself up so it's the same thing you know the image of the mountain or the inverted mountain it's the same images usually the up tends to be a more masculine image and the down into the earth a more feminine image so the word takes us up or down the Ganges to the source of it all and there all seeming opposites and polarities converge and are there in unity all paradoxes


converge and are there in unity male, female, light, darkness, inner, outer good, evil, sin, grace transcendence, eminence because there we are at the very center of the cross and it is there, it is here in this place that we must hear the most important and liberating words for a human being to hear words that were very important for Jesus and his humanity to hear and we must come to hear these same words but it's only there that we must really hear this word said to us in all intimacy and what is that word


you are my beloved and on you my favor rests to me those are the most important liberating words that a human being needs to hear at that level at that core level, at that secret place in the shrine of the heart now I'd like to say a little bit of something about Lectio in life through a regular practice of Lectio as not something I do a half hour a day or whatever but rather


an expanding reality I become changed and I start to notice I'm listening to life, I become a listener at least more of a listener than before I began this approach to scripture I start to notice all my senses now are being marshalled are coming together and are agents of this listening process listening with my touch and with my eyes with my taste as well as my spiritual intuition seems to grow and I listen with this kind of unknown sixth sense if you will not psychological intuition, I don't mean that, I mean spiritual intuition I don't and so gradually with fidelity to good practice Lectio expands into a way of living, thinking, praying which will involve all aspects of myself


and my life. Lectio changes a person and their life it is the center of the monastic life because it is seen as the center of the Christian life for no other reason of going into the mystery of the Godhead through Christ who is a hidden presence in our life as depicted in the story The Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus in Luke's Gospel we go into the mystery of the Godhead within, through Christ with Christ who is always with us though we are often not with Christ and in Christ a living in the reciprocity of love between Christ and his God whom he called Abba what some theologians call the open Trinitarian circle


the circle dance that's never closed but always open and always in gathering you know that song The Lost and the Broken that kind of captures that. For us monks anyway, Lectio is enhanced and deepened that liturgy where we're doing the same thing we're listening and responding to the word and we try to do it in a slow, careful way so the word has a chance to sound our depths that's why we do it the way we do it and the same gospel that we do here, the same gospel is heard at Lodz that we will hear again at Mass and that we've done already in our Lectio or may do after Lodz, so that we're probably hearing it at least three times the repetition, it's Lectio We strive to keep the word of that day


each day alive within us through its remembrance so as to abide in God's love and in this deep word that I must hear, this deep truth, you are my beloved on whom my favor rests when you're jogging, when you're working in your garden when you're baking in the bakery, when you're being ignored when you just have a fight with someone where something just broke and you're frustrated these pull us out of that truth, don't they? They pull us out of that awareness we remember so that we can more and more of our being can be enlightened by this truth and we can live from this truth with greater fidelity our whole life becomes then a deeply listening life, not for a message from God or a voice, but it's a listening as communion


it's how we commune with God by an attentiveness to God's hidden presence in the cave of our hearts in the cave of our neighbor's heart, our enemy's heart in the cave of the heart of a tree the heart of creation and in the heart of the cosmos it's all one reality, so Anthony can say these are my books his whole life is a listening as communion one learns through Lectio to listen for the tiny whispering sound of God which is often a very subtle presence in us and with us and before us like Elijah who was in his cave waiting for God and God comes with a whispering sound one learns the difference through Lectio between the superficial level


of a person or of a thing or of an event or of oneself or what society tells us is reality which more often than not is a disguise or distortion of reality one learns to know the difference between that and the depths of life the really real somebody wants to find contemplation as a long loving look at the really real and one finds one is able to drink deeply to the bottom of the glass you know what that is, it's your moment, life is dished out one glass at a time, one moment and we take sips because we're worrying about the last glass or the glass coming ahead but one learns through this Lectio listening approach to see each glass coming and to drink it to the very bottom in each moment in each situation


one learns to seek and find God in each moment of ordinary life one seeks through Lectio, one finds in listening one rests and marvels then in the ten thousand manifestations of the one divine presence as paschal mystery love poured out, received and returned one realizes that the whole cosmos is caught up in this mystery, in this movement in this dance and you are caught up in it I think then all the projects of your life start to shrink and lose a lot of their intense grip on you when you realize you are someone else's project and what you do


with your life becomes less important than who you become in your life amen, amen that's it, any questions, comments? thank you that's wonderful yes going up to go down I remember the phrase by Flannery O'Connor he said, everything that rises must converge I'm just thinking


how the infernal being how things are trying to go up the infertile says if you want to go up you have to go down yeah, there's a lot of wisdom in that thank you what I've tried to do in these talks is to give you no, there's not a whole lot you can read on Lectio there aren't a whole lot of books on Lectio what I've tried to do is to kind of keep what I've read in the back of my mind, but primarily to give you, to share out of my experience so I hope that has come which is not really from any book, per se so we can't get it anywhere else we have to buy the tapes


this is not something I can say, well I got this from this book no, I try to really kind of keep that as a background thing as a resource, but really to get in touch with what has been my evolving experience with the Word I just want to say I've been here I think three times before and I've been very interested in monasticism for probably 20 years and this is really key like you said at the beginning this is an essential part of your life it really opens up a whole lot for me I really get a better understanding of what it means but just remember


we don't own the Word right right as my talks on the inner monk talk about, we don't own the monk either yes I wanted to respond to the significance of the experience and as the vehicle that requires such openness a new power that opens the whole presentation I feel at different points I got a little bit teary eyed because I feel like I was stripping myself before you because this is, I'm talking to you about my love partner you know it's very very personal yet there's some part of me that


I think desires to, there's someone who's there to listen and really interested to try to share which is not, you know, words don't really fully capture it images are more helpful in symbols of course so I have sensed in sharing with you, I have sensed a sort of intimacy in our time together which I think is a nice context for the Word because it's all about this intimate encounter you know you're giving me something the best thing you gave was your last sentence that for me I find myself project oriented project consumed, might be more correct to meditate


the concept that, the experience that I am someone else's project and so then all that works and it doesn't lessen the importance of what a person does with their life but in fact it becomes very important what you do but to realize that's a vehicle for whom you become so be careful about the vehicle you choose what you choose to do with your life is somehow intimately connected to who you will become you were going to say something about the connection between Lectio and Centering Prayer well I would hope that that's somewhat apparent when you the prayer of the heart really grew out of the monastic practice of Lectio where certain ones of the monks


the Abbas would find in their Lectio being drawn to certain phrases and certain words that they just never got beyond you know, and they just came back and back and they almost became enfleshed in them, and one of those, as Cashen mentions in his writings in the Conferences is, O Lord make haste to help me come to my assistance, which Benedict then took to begin his office with everyday we say, O Lord come to my assistance that was a very popular word and the monk was supposed to kind of repeat it over and over again throughout the day, while he's weaving baskets, while he's just sitting in silence, you know, and then some other monks would have their favorite words and then eventually the Jesus prayer developed that tradition as a favorite word that began to be shared so the prayer of the heart what it does is, instead of going through a text, it takes the same word


so it eliminates Lectio, the reading part and it sort of starts with Meditatio but on the exact same words, but I would almost say the tail end of Meditatio, and it tries to move to the Contemplatio in as straightforward and simple and direct method as possible but the intention is to arrive at the same place as you arrive at through Lectio so the goal is the same, I think what is called different things centric for today, that's becoming more popular I think because of the time that Lectio requires and this kind of concerns me and because again, it may play too much on the American fetish as finding a fast-food method of getting down to the American fetish as finding a fast-food method of getting down to the American fetish