As I learned about Lectio Divina from Brother Michael, O.C.S.O., our Junior Instructor for Lay Cistercians at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit (Trappist), Conyers, Georgia, this way of praying is at the center of Cistercian spirituality, and so is what we Lay Cistercians place towards the top of our practices. Lectio Divina has four steps (some say five) where its practitioners move through four stages or steps: lectio– a reading from Holy Scripture that we are to read over and over and then move to meditatio — in silence and solitude, reflecting on the various levels of meaning contained in that phrase or sentence; this leads to oratio, a prayer to the Holy Spirit to move to the next level, contemplatio. Contemplation is moving to that inner room all of us have where we retire and seek refreshment. Lectio Divina is all about moving from head to the heart and transforming self because of the presence of the Holy Spirit to be more like Christ and less like your false self.
Sirach is recognized by the Church as being canonical or inspired. It is often overlooked when people stand vigil before the Blessed Sacrament. Standing in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament can be a somewhat conflicting experience because we humans always want to fill up our time with something, anything, that means our time is productive. Who wants to stand before God and just do nothing. Yet, ironically that is exactly what contemplation is all about, with one exception. The nothingness of God contains more energy than all matter in all universes in whatever is out there. I do not have the capability nor the capacity to begin to wrap my mind around the love that God has just for me (and all of us). What I can do is be there in Lectio sitting on a park bench in the dead of Winter straining to see Jesus walking towards me to sit and talk. Lectio Divina is when Jesus wraps me in the blanket of the Holy Spirit and gives me what I can absorb about love to make me toasty warm. Once that happens to you, particularly as you take time to stand vigil before the Blessed Sacrament, you will sell all you have and empty yourself of all human “things” just to sit next to Christ and feel that warmth again.
I recommend that you read the book of Sirach as you kneel or sit before Christ, present in the Eucharist. Read just one sentence and say it over and over. Savor it and see how it applies to your life, then assimilate it into who you are and how you look at reality. The Wisdom of Sirach is heaven on earth. The Gospels and St. Paul quote from it to show us that being a disciple of Christ is all about “doing” what Christ did to those around you. As Jesus tells us, if you love those who love you, what merit is that? His disciples are called to love those who hate you and belittle you and tell you Jesus is just a wandering carpenter who had thoughts about being God, some say. Don’t forget to use Sirach to help you open yourself to the Spirit, so the transforming grace of God overshadows you each day.