'It is all about receptivity to his Word'
Guigo II, a Carthusian monk who died in 1137, gave the old tradition its definitive formulation. He wrote of the Lectio moment (the Reading moment), and of the Meditatio moment (the Meditation moment), and of the Oratio moment (the Oration or Prayer moment) and the Contemplatio moment (the Contemplation moment). In the years since, the Church has made his structuring her very own.
Lectio is a reading of the text with the listening ear of the heart. It is the most important step in the process: for God starts all prayer. He is always the first Word. Our reading should be a reverent and a slow one with one question in mind: What does this text say?
Meditatio is a reflection on that question by asking What does this text say to me? The text should be a mirror in which we see some of our experiences, some of our challenges, some of our thoughts, and some of our questions. We should reflect in silence, allowing the text to resound in us, slowly chewing this holy food, as Guigo wrote, savoring it, digesting it, and absorbing it in our whole being.
Oratio is a praying in response to God’s Word. It asks a third question: What do I want to say to God after this reading and reflecting on this text? This practice is, after all, a dialogue with God. You can do this in writing if that is a more comfortable way for you.
Contemplatio is a quiet resting in God. Whereas Oratio is a word-filled prayer, Contemplatio is a mostly wordless silence, a prayer of few words, at least. It is the most essential thing in Lectio Divina: it allows God who must have the first Word in prayer to have this last Word as well. It is all about receptivity to his Word. What happens here is not really up to us.
It is not a question of choosing Lectio Divina over Word-Working. It is a question of using it as preparation for Word-Working’s sharing of the heart. The one completes the other.
Bishop of Dodge City