Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wasting time with Jesus

 This was a tongue in cheek saying Father Terry used to use when referring to giving our time to spend with Jesus. :)

 While on retreat at the Carmelite monastery, we were graced with four talks given by Father McGoldrick. They were entitled;

1. Finding our place on the Sea of History
2. Duc in Altum (cast into the deep)
3. Lectio Divina
4. Drawing our life from the Eucharist

The whole day was based on JPIIs plan for the new millennium, beginning with the year 2000. Everything was so cohesive and all that we heard and learned so full of the Holy Spirit, that my rendering of any of it will be hard pressed to reflect accurately the tone or atmosphere that accompanied the day.

I don't know if I will be able to summarize and address each talk, though I took enough notes for you and for me. But the one I want to tell a bit about today is Lectio Divina. (pronounced LEX ee oh  Dih VEE nah).

 Now, any of you who know about this already, feel free to chime in. I am new to it. As an Evangelical, I read and studied my Bible. I had an NASB study bible that I loved; I used my concordance, went to weekly bible study, read through the Bible at least twice. However! Interpretation was all up for grabs. Since converting, I admit , I have been relying on the readings at mass for my scripture intake. I was a little afraid I would not know how to think about the scriptures in a "Catholic" way. Also, I got lazy. But before Lent began, I borrowed my daughters St. Joseph edition and decided I would pick up reading scripture and ask questions if I got bogged down. Next thing I knew I was at the retreat, and dear Father McG. taught us a beautiful way to read scripture. A gift.

Basically, Lectio Divina (sacred Reading)  is reading the scripture in a prayerful, personally involved way that will highlight different parts of the reading at any given time one reads it. There are preparatory prayers that help to dispose our minds and hearts to what we are about to do.

Here are Fathers suggestions, though they do not have to be these exact prayers;

Prayer to Jesus
When in the presence of the Eucharist: Jesus I make an act of faith in your Eucharistic presence, I believe you are here with me. As you sat with your disciples and revealed your mysteries to them, so now, as I sit with you and read your word, I beg you to reveal your mysteries to me.

When not in a church or chapel: Lord Jesus, in you "we live and move and have our being." I place myself humbly in your presence and beg you to make me more aware of your presence throughout the day.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit; teach me how to pray, for I do not know how to pray as I ought. Come Holy Spirit; come by means of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well-beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit.

Prayer to Mary
Mother Mary, give me your heart that I may, as good soil, receive the Word, that I may ponder these things as you did, that I may come to know Jesus as you did, that I may love Jesus as you did. Mary, it was in your womb that the Word was made flesh, give me your spirit that HE may take flesh again in me.

Prayer to the writer of the Gospel
St. [N], pray for me; teach me; share with me your own meditations on the mystery of Christ as you wrote down this Gospel.

Then choose a passage of scripture--a Gospel is a very good place to start. (Do re mi!, whoops!) Then read it closely and prayerfully. Very. Slowly. Stop. Between. Words. And. Pay . Attention. to. Them. Put yourself in the scene. Use your imagination and experience all the senses in your mind. The heat or cold, who you may be in the scene, etc. Read a small part over more than once. Repeat any part that jumps out at you. That may even be the first line; you may find yourself touched by God in some way. We are to just allow this to happen, not to be in a rush to get though the whole reading we have chosen. God may choose to meet us at that the first sentence.

Now Father went though a scripture passage with us to demonstrate. As many notes I furiously scribbled throughout the rest of the talks-- this time, aside from a few words, I couldn't. I was transfixed at how Father read and experienced that passage--and took us along with him. He read from the Gospel of John, the part where Jesus is carrying the cross and up to when He was on the cross saying His last words. Un.Believable.

Okay so that's the Readers Digest version. Yesterday afternoon, I thought I would give this a try. I thought, "I will just go through the steps, it will probably be many times before I get the hang of it."

I said the prayers as they are, as I could not conceive anything better; then chose to read the Gospel reading for this coming Sunday. John 4: 5- ( I only made it to 26). The story of the Samaritan Woman. It seemed pretty easy to cast myself as the Samaritan Woman. Perhaps too easy. As I was reading and immersing myself in the scene, it happened that I was very deeply and personally touched especially by the part where Jesus asks me ( the Samaritan Woman) for a drink. In the passage, she is surprised that He (a Jew), would even speak to her (a Samaritan). In MY scene, I am surprised that He (God), would ask for refreshment, or anything at all,  from me (His creation, a sinner). And then, even more so at His response.
"If you knew the gift of God (He is the gift of God), and understood that it is I (Jesus) asking you for refreshment, you would ask for living water. (which would be His life in me, the Holy Spirit--a relationship with Him instead of seeking my own counterfeit ones [remember I am the Samaritan Woman (five husbands!)]
Jesus offers real love. Divine, living water, not earthly water. The kind that leaves you so that you never thirst again. So that you never feel unloved again. But like the Woman, so many times I keep trying to package His love in an earthly, finite form.
He goes on to show me (the Woman) that He understands me and my background, my sins and weaknesses. Even when I don't completely understand, even when He comes right out and tells me He is the Messiah, He is patient.

I was touched by the fact that Jesus reached through His Divine self, presenting himself to me on a human level, answering my dim questions, and understanding my broken human condition. He still offers Himself to me to fulfill what I need for eternal life.

So, yeah, I guess Jesus doesn't need to wait until "I" get better at Lectio Divina.

 from the Carmel


  1. P.S--The flute-ing is coming along! The prayers are working :)

    And the reading of the Imitation of Christ is also adding a wonderful dimension to Lent for me. It is something to read in little bits each day. Very meaty.

  2. Sounds like a life-changing day.

    If you should wish to do some academic Bible reading with a Catholic orientation, I would highly recommend the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible - New Testament.

  3. This was a great read. It held my interest all the way through. Thanks. :)

  4. I am just reading through this today. In a moment of quiet that, between work and home life I have not had of late. I know the story of the Samaritan woman well. Kelly - your thoughts and the feeling you convey is truly Spirit-filled. I am inspired, awed, humbled by the different venues and unlikely occasions in which God chooses to speak to us. Thank you, my friend, for sharing.

  5. Always, friend. So very glad you were blessed.