READINGS IN CONTEMPLATIVE THOUGHT

In order to develop contemplative practice, you must practice contemplative thinking. One way I do that is by reading. If your reading on a daily or weekly basis is on topics that deepen your “capcitas dei” the capacity to grow in Christ, then reading should be an important practice that allows you to meet Christ through the views of other contemplative thinkers. All reading is not the same. Here is my order of important and sources of reading for spiritual reading.

SCRIPTURE — This reading is not just human in origin but comes from God via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by writers. The Church, authorized by Christ, tells us what is authentic and what is not. The mission of the Church Universal, down through each age, is to keep before our minds and hearts that command from Christ to love one another as He has loved us and to warn us against evil interpretations (heresies) that seduce us off mission.

The Word of God produces grace by our reading it. When we do so, we make an act of the will to commit so much time, each day, each week to pick up the Scriptures and spend time reading God’s Valentine Letters to us (a good way to look at Scripture). Reading a novel by Sr. Authur Conan Doyle produces enlightenment and pleasure. Reading Scripture inspired by God produces grace. The Scripture is only a vehicle to place our heart next to the heart of Christ. Scripture tells us how to love as Christ loves us.

OTHER PRAYERS COME FROM A SCRIPTURAL BASE

Scriptural reading permeates every aspect of my Lay Cistercian approach to prayer. I try to read directly from Scripture each day in order to gain insight into how I should live my life as Christ did. Not only that, Eucharist has the readings from Scripture as its first part, The Liturgy of the Word. All prayers come from Scriptural quotes as their bases. All Sacraments use direct quotes from Scripture in their formats. We are, thankfully, surrounded by Scripture. Lectio Divina comes from Scripture. My one and only Lectio Divina saying is “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) I say that over and over in hopes of becoming what I pray.

The Rosary is an example of meditation on the aspects of the Life of Christ. I try to say this prayer once a day. The Scriptural Rosary is one where you read directly from Scripture before each decade (e.g. Luminous Mysteries and the Transfiguration of Christ, Luke 9:28-36). When we bring Scripture into our hearts, God does something to us, something so wonderful we don’t appreciate it fully until perhaps much later on.

Scripture allows us to meet Christ where we are in life. The best way I have found to do Lectio Divina is to repeat my saying, “Have in your the mind of Christ Jesus.” and then listen. What follows does not come from me but is the product of being in the presence of Christ.

WHAT DO OTHERS SAY ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE READING SCRIPTURE?

You won’t be sorry if you take the time to visit the website of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. https://christdesert.org/prayer/desert-fathers-stories/ This site contains saying of Desert Fathers which give some interesting insights into how Scripture has impacted their meeting Christ.

New Advent (www.newadvent.org) is a great source to read the actual writings of the early Church. We can gain insight into Scripture by reading what others had to say about how Scripture influences their thinking.

Digging around on the Internet produces a profundity of resources about Scripture.

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