A Suggestion for Lent
18/February/2009 Filed in: Jottings
Yesterday someone asked my advice about lectio divina during Lent. I'm going to repeat what I said here on the grounds that there may be others who are thinking, "What can I do for Lent?" and are becoming entangled in complicated schemes for personal improvement. The first thing to do, of course, is to drop the idea of "personal improvement". That is a work of grace we can safely entrust to the Holy Spirit. Our part is simply to provide the optimum conditions in which the Spirit can work. Prayerful reading of scripture is an excellent way of opening ourselves up to God; and if we have not yet practised doing so on a regular basis, it is important not to set ourselves an impossible standard. Better a little every day than great wodges now and then — learning to pray the scriptures is exactly like learning to speak another language. Personally, I think reading through the Mass readings every day, slowly and prayerfully, with pauses for reflection, is the best way of beginning. Doing so assures us that we are praying in union with the whole Church and frees us from having to decide what we are going to read and perhaps skipping passages we find challenging. Begin with a prayer to the Holy Spirit, to prepare mind and heart for what is to be read; and end with a prayer of thanksgiving, asking that God's word may become alive and active in us. There are no special techniques to be learned, all that is necessary is a readiness to listen — and to act, if we are called upon to do so.