December 18, 2007

The growing popularity of an ancient way of Scriptural prayer from the monasteries

"Lectio Divina" Seen as a Compass and Spiritual GPS
Site on Meditation of Scripture Aims to Attract Youth


By Miriam Díez i Bosch

A "spiritual GPS" and a "compass for life" are two images that have been used to illustrate the importance of reading the Bible, says a Catholic consultor for the United Biblical Societies.

Ricardo Grozna said this to ZENIT when commenting on the Web site, which offers guides for "lectio divina," or the meditative reading of Scripture, and aims especially to attract youth. It already has 50,000 users.

"To define 'lectio divina' as a GPS [Global Positioning System] is to see in it a satellite that tells us where we are, like a compass, which indicates to us the path to follow," Grozna said. He commented that Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, "has referred to 'lectio divina' as a GPS, and the Pope has defined the Bible as a 'compass for life.'"

Sacred Scripture "is a book that interprets my life; the Bible ends up being like a mirror that helps me, and teaches me to seek a path," Grozna added. "For years, Pope John Paul II and then Benedict XVI insisted a great deal that 'lectio divina,' which was a method of monastic prayer of the monks, could reach all Christians."

Novel evangelization

The program of "lectio divina" on the Internet consists in offering users texts and MP3 files. Users are chiefly youth who download the audio files on their mobile phones. Grozna explained that the aim of the program is to train young people who can lead other youth in reading the Bible.

"The Church is taking all the programs promoting biblical reading as a priority," explained Grozna, pointing especially to his experience in Latin America. "Catholics have delayed a little in rediscovering the Bible, but the Bible has always been present in the Church. [...] I don't read the Bible, it is the Bible that reads me."

Grozna said the site's success is shown by hundreds of e-mail messages from youth telling "how they are changing their lives by following the prayerful reading."

The method is also ecumenical, he added: "'Lectio divina' has been a point for moving forward in dialogue with other Christian brothers." And it also serves as a social apostolate, "In some countries, the parish youth are using the method of 'lectio divina' to reach ostracized youth; those who are in very poor neighborhoods, those who have been victims of drugs, violence, gangs."

Hugo Flores, manager of the site, was in Rome to present the program. He told ZENIT the program has been well received by theologians and biblical scholars. "They have taken 'lectio divina' as a point to help them evangelize and carry the word of the Lord to more groups. Cardinals, bishops, priests ... they are fascinated with this novelty, this new form of evangelizing through the Internet."


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