Theology and Lectio Divina

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#item-set-093, Conference #2 was not recorded.


about theology and Lectio, Lectio Divina, because in my vision, theology is the background for a good practice of Lectio Divina. And I will try to explain this content in some meetings. Today, I want to explain what is Lectio Divina as a monastic spiritual practice. And in the next days, what is theology? Now, in the Church, and finally, in the last day, in July, two meetings about Lectio Divina as


a prayer word. It's clear? Do you understand? In these meetings, I would like to present what Lectio Divina really is in monastic life, and what it actually implies. For this reason, I would like not only to offer a description of its methodology, but above all to explain its spiritual meaning. But to understand its spirituality, it is necessary to know that Lectio Divina is a spiritual exercise or spiritual practice. For me, these words, exercise, practice, are synonyms. By spiritual exercise or spiritual


practice, I don't mean a religious practice, which I effect often to save my soul. On the contrary, spiritual exercise is a way of living, of thinking, and of praying, which involves all my human being and my spiritual progress in the daily life. In other words, spiritual exercise, in the monastic tradition, is not a spiritual retreat, which I live from time to time, but it is that spiritual orientation which transforms my human being every day.


In this light, the life of a monk is a permanent spiritual practice, every day. Lectio Divina, as a spiritual practice, must be understood then as a manner of being which changes the deep sense of life. For this reason, Lectio Divina is a spirituality, is the traditional center of the monastic life. Why the center? This is the difficulty to explain. We will not be able to answer this question before we try to answer to another problem. Why have we come here? Why have you come here in this hermitage, in this community, monastic community? This question,


writes Thomas Merton, is one which we should ask ourselves again and again in the course of our monastic life. It is a question which confronts us with a new meaning, a new urgency, as we go on in life. The question is one which must never be evaded. What are some of the answers we give to the question, why have you come here? We reply, to save my soul, to lead a life of prayer, to give myself to God, to love God. But Thomas Merton writes, these are good enough answers. There are


religious answers. But it is clear that these religious answers are not the right reply, the theological answer. It makes much more sense to say, as Saint Benedict says, that we come to the monastery to seek God, than to say that we come seeking our spiritual perfection or our personal salvation. Thus, to say, why have you come here is the same as saying, what does it mean to seek God? How do you know if you are seeking him or not? The answer of our faith is, through Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus


Christ. Here, these prepositions, through, with, in, are very important, because they reveal the steps of our spiritual path. Here, these prepositions are theological, and I will try to explain them in the light of the text presented in Luke 24, verse 13-35, the disciples of Emmaus. Thank you. Randy, read them for us. It's a very famous text, this page. Now that very same day, two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem,


and they were talking together about all that had happened. And it happened that as they were talking together and discussing it, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He said to them, what are all these things that you are discussing as you walk along? They stopped, their faces downcast. Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, you must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days. He asked, what things? They answered, all about Jesus of Nazareth, who showed himself a prophet, powerful in action and speech before God and the whole people, and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death and had him crucified.


Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all. Two whole days have gone by since it all happened, and some women from our group have astounded us. They went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they could not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels, who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb, and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing. Then he said to them, you foolish men, so slow to believe all that the prophets have said. Was it not necessary that Christ should suffer before entering into his glory? Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.


When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on, but they pressed him to stay with them, saying, It is nearly evening, and the day is almost over. So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them, at table, he took the bread and said the blessing. Then he broke it and handed it to them, and their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us? They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven assembled together and with their companions, who said to them, The Lord has indeed risen and has appeared to Simon.


Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognized him at the breaking of bread. Thank you. In my opinion, this text is the first divine lecture in the Church, because Luke presents us the event of Jesus Christ, the concrete event in the story of some people, some disciples. We have said, until now, three important things. Lectio Divina is a spiritual practice. It is the center of monastic spirituality. But to understand this question, it is very important to answer another question.


Why have we come here? And our reply is through Jesus Christ, we seek God through Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ. And this text helps us to find the right answer through Jesus Christ. The disciples of Emmaus are the disciples of Christ at all times. We are these disciples today. We are these disciples who walk, thinking, they know the road and our goal. We have known Jesus Christ, but then we are not able to recognize him.


In this first step of our spiritual itinerary, two moments are very important. First, it is Jesus Christ who draws near to us, who seeks us out and who enters into our life. It is Jesus Christ. Through his hidden presence in our life, we walk our road, but we actually begin to run to another way. The second moment. In this first step, we are not yet the witnesses of the risen one, but only the reporters of the things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth.


Verse 19 to 24. We understand the cross, but we have not yet been comprehended by its events. We know the chronicle of Jesus' life, but we don't know his theological interpretation. The second step is with Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ draws near to us. It is the second step of our path, our spiritual path. We discover that Jesus Christ is with us. We are not yet with him, but he is with us.


First of all, he is with us through the Scripture. This presence is like a fire burning in us. Then, he is with us when he breaks the bread for us. Verse 29 and 30. Only the grace of the word and the gift of the Eucharistic bread open our human eyes to the contemplation of the risen Lord. Only in this experience we do recognize him and we begin really to see our road and our goal. Verse 33.


It is very important to notice that the road is always the same from Emmaus to Jerusalem, but it changes its orientation. Now, we discover our true goal. In other words, this road is our concrete existence where we remain with the same character, intelligence, will, our personality, but at the same time we are no more those we were before. And we discover the gift of the Paschal Community, the Church. Meeting the Lord, we begin a conversion, a wise path, or better, a spiritual interior transformation,


and we are no more alone, but given to a community. We begin to discover the joy of the Christian community and to recognize Jesus Christ in our brothers and sisters. After through and with Jesus Christ, the third step of this spiritual path is in Jesus Christ. This step is that of our spiritual maturity. This is very difficult to explain. This is the deeper feature of our faith's experience, that is, to be in Christ. Let us take, for example, the witness of St. Paul. He writes, I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.


Paul does not say he lives in Christ, but vice versa, that Jesus Christ lives in him. Paul's experience is that his human personality has been transfigured, transformed by the presence of Christ in him. He also writes, Because we have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within us, we can call out in sonship with Christ, Abba, Father. Hence, Paul's faith experience is that of a living reciprocity between Christ and himself. In other words, it is that which Jesus promises in John's Gospel, Whoever loves me will obey my teaching.


My Father will love him, and my Father and I will come to him and live with him. I bring to your attention that the obedience to the teaching of Jesus does not come from the fear of God, but it comes from love for him. In other words, we become sons of God by love, by remaining in Christ's love. I love you just as the Father loved me. Remain in my love. Jesus Christ said, If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands, and remaining in his love.


My command is this, love one another just as I love you. It seems to me that in this text evangelical obedience is the answer to the Father's love. The Son obeys the Father in love. The Father loves the Son, and he loves the Father. We obey the commandment to love one another because Christ has loved us just as the Father has loved him. Is it difficult? Do you understand? The Son obeys the Father in love. The Father loves the Son, and he loves the Father. We obey the commandment to love one another because Christ has loved us just as the Father has loved him.


So we remain in his love. His love is the rock on which we can build our life. But what is the paradigm of this his love? What is Christ's love? It is the same deep reciprocity of love between the Father and the Son, which spreads in a radiant circle which embraces us. The commandment to love one another is not a different thing from remaining in the love of Christ. It's not a different thing. In other words, I don't love the other one to remain in the love of Christ, but vice versa.


Because I live in and by his love, I can love the other one. I don't love the other one to remain in the love of Christ, but vice versa. Because I live in and by his love, I can love the other one. Without Christ's love, it's impossible to love one another. It's impossible. I can love one person, probably, or two, my friends. But everybody. Thus, we live within the same reciprocity of love which there is between the Father and the Son,


and within their radiant circle. The monastic life is this habitation. Jesus wants to say this when he says, I am the one and you are the branches who have remained in me, and I in him, reciprocity of love, will bear much fruit, the full circle of love. In this sense, the spiritual perspective of John's Gospel is theological. If we love one another, that is, if we answer with a loving obedience his commandment, we remain in the love of Christ, but the love of Christ is in the reciprocity of love with the Father.


For this reason, we seek God. We find God, the Father, through, within Jesus Christ. Though we participate in the loving circle of the Trinity, because in God the bond of love which unites the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit, we can say with Augustine, the Father is the loving, the Son is the beloved, and the Holy Spirit is the love. The Father is the loving, the Son is the beloved, and the Holy Spirit is the love. An important consequence follows from this.


In the inner Trinitarian life, the love of Father and Son is not closed upon itself. The Holy Spirit completes the circle of the divine life, but it is not a closed circle, but an open one. Thus, we arrive at the real heart of our monastic vocation. We are here to seek God, but through, with, and in Jesus Christ. Our monastic life is a life in Christ, a life by which we remain in His love, sharing His relationship with the Father, participating in the spiritual circle of love, which is the Holy Spirit.


Our monastic life is a life in Christ, a life by which we remain in His love, sharing His relationship with the Father, participating in the spiritual circle of love, which is the Holy Spirit. Trinitarian perspective. Christ is our life, sure. He is the deep meaning of our existence and the sense of our monastic life. Nothing in the monastery, in the hermitage, makes sense if we forget this great central truth. Nothing. Without Jesus Christ, nothing makes sense if we forget this great central truth. But the problem now is who is Jesus Christ?


Who is Jesus Christ? To answer that He is the Son of God, it is not enough for a monk. It is not enough for a monk. Sure, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but this is a catechism reply. Important, essential, but for our life it is not enough. We monks answer this question with a spiritual life, that is a life animated by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. In fact, Jesus Christ could be a mere historic event of the past if it were not for the Holy Spirit who makes Christ contemporary


and lets Him speak to us today through the Scripture. If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God. The world cannot receive Him because it cannot see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He remains with you and is in you. Monastic life is spiritual, not because the monks pray so much or because they carry out many religious practices, but only because monks seek the Father in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.


The Father is eternally open to us. He does not wish to remain a hidden God, but to show us His face in the event of Jesus Christ's person. Jesus Christ is the revelation of the Father. At the conclusion of his prologue, the Evangelist John writes, No one has ever seen God, but God's only Son, who is nearest to the Father's heart, He has made His known. The Greek verb in this text, εξεγέζετο, which John employs in this verse, is quite interesting. Literally, it means that the Son is the esegesis of the Father, that is, the Son interprets the Father to us.


In other words, we can say that the Son is a mediation of the Father to us. Without this mediation, we have no access to the Father, because Jesus Christ is the Word of Life, but this Word becomes alive within us by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, no one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. For these theological reasons, monastic life is contemplative. As the Foundation writes, Contemplation is made possible insofar as it is prepared by God, by the Father, who chooses and accepts us as His sons, by the Son, who makes known to us the Father


and gives Himself to us in His self-giving unto death and the Eucharist mystery, by the Holy Spirit, who brings and makes known to our souls the Divine Life. To conclude this reflection, let us return to the beginning question. Why Lectio Divina is the center of monastic life? Why? Because we seek the Father through, with, in His Word of Life by the Holy Spirit. Here, of course, we must distinguish various senses of the meaning of the Word of God. Naturally, the Word of God in the primordial sense is Jesus Christ Himself. He is the Word made flesh.


But another important sense of the Word of God is Scripture. The Bible narrates God's self-communication to His people, and the culmination of this history is God's offering of His Word in the Incarnation. Therefore, the Second Vatican Council quotes the remark of St. Jerome that the ignorance of the Scriptures is the ignorance of Christ. The Council wanted to overcome a one-sided sacramental piety by emphasizing that the Church receives the Bread of Life from both the table of the Word and the table of the Eucharist. On the other hand, the Scripture imparts the Word of God without change.


Thus, one way to understand Lectio Divina one way to understand Lectio Divina could be simply receptivity to the Word. But this receptivity is a gift of the Spirit. In other words, Lectio Divina is that daily practice, exercise of prayer which opens our hearts to receive God's Word in loving movement of the Holy Spirit. However, when I say that Lectio Divina is a spiritual exercise, I don't want to say that it is an activity or a doing. On the contrary, Lectio Divina is fundamentally an exercise of receptivity, a practice of silence, of concentration, and of prayer.


It is that exercise which lets us remain in Christ's love. For this reason, Lectio Divina is the one thing necessary in the monastic life. It gives significance and shape to our search for God. Why does monastic tradition, for example, remind us continually of Psalms 95? If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. Because obedience comes from hearing. In fact, obedience comes from the Latin word ob-audire. Listen. This profound truth can be found in the story of Martin and Mary in Luke 10.


The one thing necessary here is listening to the Word of God. The one thing necessary. Jesus puts it also in chapter 8 of Luke's Gospel. My mother and brothers are those who hear the Word of God and do it. But what does to hear mean? To hear means to comprehend. Now, this is the work of theology. To comprehend the mystery of the Christian faith. And every Christian is called to be theologian. That is, to penetrate God's mystery. For this reason, in my opinion, without theology we cannot do Lectio Divina well.


And, of course, my vision of theology is the perspective, the Trinitarian perspective. This is theology. And today, the work of theology is to try to explain this mystery. In the history of theology, always, the important work of theology and of spirituality consists of explaining this mystery. For this reason, I have prepared this little scheme. Jesus Christ is the center of all. And He is the door, the key for the comprehension of Trinity.


And where is Jesus Christ today? In the Scripture, in the Church, in the people. And I have written here hospitality, because hospitality is very important in our tradition. We can comprehend our spiritual life only in Jesus Christ. And I would like that we can read again the text of the disciples of Emmaus.


Jesus Christ there is the center. But Jesus Christ is open to Trinity. And at the same time, Jesus Christ is the Scripture today in the Church. Jesus Christ is the life, the same life of the Church. And Jesus Christ is present among the people. And this relationship is possible for the Holy Spirit. I think it is impossible to do today, to do Lectio Divina well without this perspective, Trinitarian perspective.


I have finished this first meeting. I have prepared the photocopy, because my pronunciation is terrible. And you can read personally, and probably to understand better my message. Thank you. Is this coming every Tuesday? No, the next time is Friday. For two times my discourse will be a little bit difficult. Because I will speak about theology today.


And it is not easy to explain. But I hope. But for today, probably there is a question. It is not clear. It is not clear what is the action of the Holy Spirit? Well, one type is called actual grace. Where are the other three types? Well, I don't understand. Excuse me. He was asking the types of graces of the Holy Spirit.


This is very interesting. It is very important. Only John, in his Gospel, tries to explain what is really, actually, the Holy Spirit. And he calls Holy Spirit, with this word, Spirit, and Helper. In English translation. But I don't know. Probably there are other translations. The Holy Spirit is the third manifestation of God.


Now, the Father is the beginning of all. The origin. And the Son, this Christ, is a historical revelation. In a human being. And now, the Holy Spirit, for many theologians, this is the time of the Holy Spirit. The time of the Church or the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit works from the Eternity. And the Creation is the work of the Father. Now, through Jesus Christ, the Word of Jesus Christ, but in the Holy Spirit.


I think the better image are the words of Saint Augustine. The Father is the loving. The beginning of love. And the Son is the Word of love. But He is also the Beloved. The answer is the Word of the Father. But also the answer of love, the Son. Is it difficult? Yeah, like mystery. The self-utterance.


And at the same time, the Son is the answer of obedience. For this reason is the Word of God, of the Father. The Father is the Word of obedience. At the same time. And the Word of love. The answer of love. And what is the Holy Spirit in this relationship? For Saint Augustine is the love. The background. The circle. The circulation. The movement of love in God. Because if were only Father and Son, this love probably should be egoist.


Instead, the Holy Spirit is the progression of love in God. It is evident. My words are very poor to explain this mystery. We must read works of Saint Augustine, Saint Richard or other mystical. But only. There is always this perspective. And now, in our concrete existence, the Holy Spirit works within us.


And for this reason, we can remember and probably understand Jesus Christ. Without the Holy Spirit, for me it is impossible to read the Bible and to understand the Bible. And to understand, to comprehend the person of Jesus Christ. Without the Holy Spirit. But this question, in the next time, probably, will be more clear. I don't know. Thank you.