I am redoing my Lectio Divina on St. Thomas Aquinas based on the input generated during one of my naps (I take two naps a day, one in the morning and one in the middle afternoon).

I read Mortimer Adler’s book, How to Read a Book, while in College (c. 1958-62). What is remarkable is not that I read the book, but that I can remember it. In that book, Dr. Adler puts forward some ways to read a book, such as hopping from front to back, reading one page at a sitting, then coming back and rereading it. His thoughts generated some ways to read spiritual reading, as distinguished from Lectio (one phrase at a time in meditation, prayer, maybe leading to contemplation. Here are some steps I now use when I do a spiritual reading of any kind. 

  1.  AWARENESS Remember that spiritual reading is how God communicates with you through the Holy Spirit. If what you read is a novel, you read it through entirely, sometimes at one sitting. In spiritual reading, the words are conduits for The Word to enlighten you, not at your pace, but in the silence and solitude of your heart. God has pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service (energy). Spiritual reading does something to the reader when this energy overshadows you.
  2. SLOW DOWN Slow down and let the Holy Spirit overshadow you. I love this concept of what happens when I place myself in the presence of God (such as doing the spiritual reading). I am “sub umbra alarum suaum,” under the shade of your wings. 
  3. ASK FOR WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE  When you read what is holy, you are not reading the phone book. Pray that you become what you read.
  4. In the example below, read each quote from St. Thomas Aquinas (slowly) three times. 
    1.  Read the words.
    2. Read for the Word of God.
    3.  Try to feel what the author feels while communicating with you.

This is similar to someone who learns to play the piano. You need lessons (at least I did). You learn the notes and the language of the piano. You practice for proficiency. You practice more, but this time for interpretation. You practice even more that you enter into the mind and heart of the author to express what they thought about the composition. So it is with spiritual reading. You read the author, in this case, quotes from St. Thomas Aquinas, but what inspires that author is God’s overshadowing. That is what you seek in spiritual reading.

Now try it for yourself.

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