Whose Mouth Christ Put His Own Words

St. Albert of Jerusalem
The Lawgiver of Carmel
Bishop and Lawgiver of Carmel
Albert Avogadro was born in Italy in the middle of the twelfth century. He became a Canon Regular of the Holy Cross and was elected prior in 1180. In 1184, he was named Bishop of Bobbio and of Vercelli in 1185. In 1205 he became Patriarch of Jerusalem. Sometime between 1206 and 1214 he was approached by the hermits living on Mount Carmel with the request that he would prepare for them a written rule of life based on the traditional patterns of their contemplative communal life.

This Rule inspires Carmelites all over the world. It is one of the shortest of the great rules giving the Carmelites a Way of Life.  It is obvious when reading the Rule that St. Albert lived every moment the Gospel, having internalized it so completely that the words of the Bible are used to express his thoughts. Writing the Rule for the hermits on Mount Carmel, it is quite notable that he relied on the Scriptures.  The Rule is steeped in the Gospel’s message; though there are not any explicit passages quoted, there are many allusions to Sacred Scripture.

As Carmelites, we too should be personally familiar with the Scriptures in our daily encounter with them. Then as St. Albert says of St. Paul in number 20 of the Rule we may have “both the teaching and the example of Saint Paul the Apostle, into whose mouth Christ put his own words.” The sacred texts should be in our minds and expressed in our thoughts and words. As Carmelites our day is filled with opportunities to meditate on the Scriptures: Mass, Morning and Evening Prayer, Night Prayer and the practice of Lectio Divina.

Teach me, O Lord!

Saint Albert,
you have given us a Rule of Life
according to the Gospel
to guide us on our journey
towards perfect love.
Help us always to keep watch
at our prayers, to live in
allegiance to Jesus Christ,
and to serve him
faithfully until death.
Through Christ Our Lord.

Praying with Scripture…more on lectio divina

I have been using the Gospel readings for the day for my lectio divina. The readings of late have been from the Gospel of John chapter 6. The Bread of Life discourse has been a beautiful time of prayer for me.

I also came across a nice little book that I though I would share. It is called WRAP Yourself in Scripture. This little book, by Karen and Lawrence Dwyer,  is a guide for reading, praying and reflecting on Scripture with journaling. I do find that I like to write things down, so the journaling aspect was attractive for me.

The book follows the traditional steps of lectio divina with the added twist of journaling. The advantage to journaling is that you can go back and review what God had inspired and admire what He is doing in your life. The review also helps to impress His inspiration on your soul. I also have found that journaling can help keep me focused. Besides, I seem to need to have something to do with my hands.

The title “WRAP” is an acronym for ‘write’, ‘reflect’, ‘apply’, and ‘pray’. Easy to remember! The book can be found here or here and is reasonably priced.

More on lectio divina

“Seek in reading and you will find in meditation, knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation (Sayings of Light and Love #158 ~ St. John of the Cross)

Reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation make up the four elements of lectio divina. Lectio divina is the way the early monks and desert fathers prayed. It literally means, “divine reading”.

Reading (lectio) is understood as reading and carefully repeating a short text of Scripture. Take a selection of the Bible, read it and when a thought, word or line stands out or captures your attention pause here to reflect on it, carefully repeating it and dwell on it for a time. If you become distracted, simply return to the repetition. Stay with the text until it is dried up and then move on with the reading until you become engaged in another thought, word or line.

Meditation (meditatio) is making an effort to grasp the meaning of the text and to make it relevant to you personally. The word meditate means ‘to ruminate’, to chew the word. Try to enter into the meaning of the text and identify with it. This is not hard work just make use of the faculties. Simply listen to the words. Let them suggest images, thoughts and reflections. Ponder and perceive the message that lies in the words.

Prayer (oratio) is the personal response to the chosen text of Scripture that was used for meditation. With the help of grace, thoughts move to prayer. This is the response of the heart to ask for the grace that corresponds to the text or perhaps just to draw closer in union with God. Prayer is conversation that asks with love and with the intention to grow in the virtues. In this affective element of lectio the soul desires God.

Contemplation (comtemplatio) is the final element of lectio. It is a loving gaze at length where sometimes, by the grace of God, infused contemplation occurs and the soul is raised above meditation to experiencing the mystery and reality of the Scripture text. The experience is one of peace, harmony and quiet. God’s presence is experienced as a loving awareness where His love is felt and lovingly returned.

In summary, reading seeks; meditation finds meaning; prayer demands; contemplation tastes God.

Praying with the Scriptures

Lent is here. In the days leading up to Lent, I was pondering about what I would do this Lenten season in the way of a spiritual program for myself to use during these forty days as a  preparation for the celebration of Easter. I got to thinking about a previous post, and I began to think about my own fidelity to the Promises I have made as a Secular Carmelite.

One of the things that identifies a Carmelite is their formation in the Scriptures and lectio divina. (Constitutions, 35) Also, I was thinking about my prayer. The Constitutions say in paragraph number 18 that,  “Prayer, a dialogue of friendship with God, ought to be nourished by His Word so that this dialogue becomes that, ―we speak to him when we pray; we hear him when we read the divine word.”

When I was a candidate a copy of the Gospels was given to me, along with the Scapular and the Constitutions of the Secular Order. Then part of what the priest said to me and the other candidates was, “May the Word of Christ dwell abundantly in your hearts.” (Ritual, 23)

Therefore, I decide to renew my efforts at praying with the Scriptures, picking up the practice of lectio divina with more devotion and fidelity. I also decided to use the Gospel readings from the Mass for my daily meditation and reflection. As a lay person I am called to Christ’s mission and I am to proclaim the Gospel which is why I decided to use the Gospels.

Lectio divina is a way to pray with the Scriptures.

Here is a simple way of praying this way…..

~select a passage from the Bible – read it slowly – briefly reflect on a few words that struck you

~read the passage again – briefly call to mind a few phrases that struck you

~read the passage once more – reflect on what this passage is saying to you

~from your heart offer a prayer based on your reflections