On Lectio and Openness

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A great many people "spend time in the word" every day. But much of the time they spend there seems to be spent fending off any meaning of the word that might have an impact on their lives. People fear the demands of the gospel. They often fear the cost of discipleship.

In the first few chapters of The Imitation of Christ Thomas á Kempis warns us of this tendency.

Here for example is an excerpt from Chapter 2:

from The Imitation of Christ Thomas á Kempis

EVERY man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars. He who knows himself well becomes mean in his own eyes and is not happy when praised by men.

If I knew all things in the world and had not charity, what would it profit me before God Who will judge me by my deeds?

Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise.

Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God.

The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you think you know many things and understand them well enough, realize at the same time that there is much you do not know. Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance. Why prefer yourself to anyone else when many are more learned, more cultured than you?

Many who approach the Bible study it. Study is good and necessary. But if the end result of study is merely that one knows more, it is futile. Study must end in loving more. Study must end in opening oneself to the Word and making oneself vulnerable and useful to God.

This goes for all spiritual reading. If we read only to have read, or if we read in order to understand God, and we do not allow the reading to affect how we live, we have read in vain. There is no purpose in reading merely for more information. We have enough information. People who were illiterate throughout the history of Christianity, those who had no learning whatsoever, had sufficient information. Where we are deficient, universally, is in our willingness to serve the Word, to live the Word as it has been spoken to our hearts.

So, during Lent, spend time in God's word and pray that God enlighten not merely the understanding, but the entire intellect and the will and the heart, that what we read there really changes our lives in fundamental ways. Pray that this season opens us up to the working of the Holy Spirit so that the journey begun here does not end in Easter, but in Eternity, starting here on Earth and moving through all time.

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2 Comments

Excellent post! I have often found myself studying the Bible in order to achieve apologetics work, rather than reading that I might become closer to God. We must always keep in mind that Holy Spirit works best through those open to His Work.

God bless,
Jay

Couldnít agree with you more. Here are some questions that our family uses as we prepare for the Sunday readings:

What positive qualities, attributes, virtues, actions and attitudes of the main characters are described in this passage?

What negative qualities, attributes, virtues, actions and attitudes of the main characters are described in this passage?

Contemplate the Face of Christ:
What Faces of Christ are revealed in this passage?

If this passage is a parable, what do the characters/symbols in the parable represent?

For what things does this passage lead me to ask God?

With which of the behaviors or attitudes contained in this passage do I personally struggle?

What can I do to change?

Also, I found this site a few weeks ago, on which Carmelites post a bi-weekly lectio for the Sunday reading:
www.ocarm.org/lectio/lecteng2.htm
I havenít spent enough time on it yet to really see how useful it can be. I liked their idea of showing the different sections or sub-themes of each passage. It seems to help me in following the flow of the passage.

If you know of any similar sites, Iíd like to hear about them.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 2, 2004 7:57 AM.

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