This lectio divina post came up at just the right time. I have a small group that meets once a month and uses the upcoming Sunday Gospel to do a group lectio divina exercise together. It’s always a great reflective time and I get so much out of the discussion. This month, however, busy lives got in the way and our usual gathering didn’t quite happen. That’s the way it goes sometimes.
Since I didn’t get to do my usual group lectio I thought it might be nice if I shared with you how we do this in a group setting. In my two previous posts I focused on this practice as an individual, but you may enjoy trying it with a group. So for today, I will be skipping my usual reflection and instead focusing on the “how to” of a group lectio divina exercise.
If you want to go through the exercise with this coming Sunday’s Gospel reading, you can find it HERE. You can share your thoughts over on the CS Instagram feed today. And if you need a quick review on what lectio divina is, check out this page HERE.
In our group we always start with the prayer to the Holy Spirit and then one person reads the Gospel while everyone else listens. I encourage everyone else to not follow along but to try and just listen. It can be hard, but you have to remember that you’re going to hear it four times and you’ll hear more and more of it each time. So if you’re not the first reader, close your missal or Bible or whatever you have and just listen.
As you listen, grab onto a word or phrase that strikes you. In the silence that follows the end of the reading, share just that word or phrase aloud. Say nothing more at this point. When everyone has had a chance to share something (and more than one thing can be shared by an individual), a different person reads the Gospel passage.
REFLECT: What is God saying to you?
Again, if you are not the reader, just listen. I promise you will get more out of this exercise than you think, even if you are someone who believes you have to see the words. I assure you, you can do it!
When the reader finishes, take a moment to reflect silently. You should be considering the question: What is God saying to you? God may be using only one small phrase or sentence to speak to you. What is that? Why do you think you need to hear that at this time? When you are ready, share with the group. This time of group reflection is when my group gets into a lot more discussion around the Gospel reading itself. But that discussion should be focused on what God is saying to me (and each of the individuals there) through this passage. In addition to what you heard God saying to you, your fellow small group members may have heard something you didn’t that catches your attention during the discussion. That’s one of the best parts of this: God may have more than one thing to say to you, but it might be through the person next to you, not necessarily the Gospel passage itself. So it’s important to share, but also important to listen.
One of the reasons I like to emphasize not following along with the reading when you’re not the reader is precisely for this reason. This exercise is to help you hear God speaking to you through His Word. If you’re concerned about “getting” the whole passage and understanding what it means, then you’re missing the point. Try to just listen.
RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?
Again, someone should read the Gospel again. If you have 3 or more people, it should be someone new (we generally just go around the circle and the next person in line goes). Hearing the Gospel read four times in four different voices is also beneficial. It helps you hear something differently from one time to the next or something new stands out to you because one reader puts more emphasis on it than another. Again, don’t read along with the reader or you’ll just hear your own voice in your head.
After the third reading, allow for a short pause for everyone to gather their thoughts. As you begin to share, try to answer the question, “What do you want to say to God?” Remember, the Bible it like God’s love letter to us and a letter almost always deserves a reply. After listening to what God has to say, what do you want to say in return? Share your thoughts with the group and listen to how others answer this question, too.
The Gospel passage is read a fourth time by a fourth person (depending on how small your group is you might be back at the first person). Just listen and relax in the Word. Let the words pour over you. This a relaxing moment to just enjoy what God has given us. When the reading is over, allow for a pause for everyone to rest and then close with a prayer. In my group we end with an Our Father.
Praying the Gospel in this way is a great exercise to do as an individual and with a group. If you have an existing small faith sharing group, propose trying this sometime. It’s also an exercise that can be appreciated by all Christians, so can be a good way to share our common faith with non-Catholic Christians.
I hope this was an interesting post. I’ll be back in two weeks with another lectio divina post that will focus once again on the Gospel reading. In the meantime, check out the CS Instagram feed for some lectio divina reflection.