Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Reading for Spiritual Formation

I love being surrounded my books, words, quotes, and great sayings. I have on my wall a short piece I cut out of CBD (book distributors) many years ago:

It begins by saying that lent is a "season of austerity and self-renewal, which has been modeled after Christ's 40-day temptation in the wilderness." The Rule of Saint Benedict written in the sixth century, counseled that each monk was to "receive a book from the library" at the start of lent and to read it thoroughly or completely. To help accomplish this goal, an hour from the daily schedule was devoted to this project. It reminds me of some programs in school like drop everything and read. Wouldn't it be great that this was implemented in all places of employment?

The reading practiced was known as "lectio divina," which means divine reading. This practice encourages slow, meditative reading. What a contrast to our world who encourages speed reading or superficial reading. The monks goal was not to acquire new reading, but to "pray about, ruminate on, and even memorize the text as a form of spiritual formation, so as to make it part of their everyday lives."

Are you willing to take up the challenge? Pick out a book that you want to read slowly and thoroughly. Set aside time to read it slowly at least 3-5 times each week for a year or till you finish it. Do not read it quickly, but read slowly, meditatively, ruminating on each syllable. Think about the passage, muttering the words over and over. May we all be changed by our reading.

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