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Lectio Divina Explained

Are you familiar with Lectio Divina? It is an old form of prayer that has become popular again in the Church. The phrase is Latin for ―divine reading, and it means to pray with Scripture. Here is a nice description from ignatianspiritualty.com:

When a person wants to use Lectio Divina as a prayer form today, the method is very simple. When one is a beginner, it is better to choose a passage from one of the Gospels or epistles, usually ten or fifteen verses. Some people who regularly engage in this method of prayer choose the epistle or the Gospel for the Mass of the day as suggested by the Catholic Church.

First, one goes to a quiet place and recalls that one is about to listen to the Word of God. Then one reads the scripture passage aloud to let oneself hear with his or her own ears the words. When one finishes reading, pause and recall if some word or phrase stood out or something touched one’s heart. If so, pause and savor the insight, feeling, or understanding. Then go back and read the passage again because it will have a fuller meaning. Pause again and note what happened. If one wants to dialogue with God or Jesus in response to the word, one should follow the prompting of one’s heart. This kind of reflective listening allows the Holy Spirit to deepen awareness of God’s taking the initiative to speak with us.

Lectio Divina can also be an effective form for group prayer. After a passage is read, there can be some extended silence for each person to savor what he or she has heard, particularly noting whether any word or phrase became a special focus of attention. Sometimes groups invite members, if they so desire, to share out loud the word or phrase that struck them. This is done without discussion. Then a different person from the group would read the passage again with a pause for silence. Different emphases might be suggested after each reading: What gift does this passage lead me to ask from the Lord? What does this passage call me to do? The prayer can be concluded with an Our Father.

Whether one prays individually or in a group, Lectio Divina is a flexible and easy way to pray. One first listens, notes what is given and responds in a way one is directed by the Holy Spirit.

Our Tuesday Bible study group at Assumption uses Lectio Divina and it’s been very helpful to open all of us to the Holy Spirit vis-à-vis the Sunday readings. Here are some examples of Lectio from theologians, saints, and Fathers of the Church in regards to today’s Gospel (Lk 24:11-35):

Jesus asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast (v. 17).

  • St Thomas Aquinas: ―Of all the passions, sadness causes the most injury to the soul.
  • St. Augustine: ―They were so shattered when they saw him hanging on a tree that they forgot his teaching. They did not expect him to rise, nor did they hold on to what he had promised.
  • Pope Francis: ―We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning.

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures (v. 27).

  • St. Gregory the Great: ―The reader of the Bible must raise himself from the story to the mystery.

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him… (Vs. 30-31).

  • A Lapide: ―See here the power and effect of the Eucharist. It opens and illumines the eyes of the mind to know Jesus and to enter into heavenly and divine mysteries.

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg

Go forth and be fishers of men

Will you heed the call?

Today we are asking you to sign up for prayer teams for our upcoming “street evangelization.” You’ve heard me mention this and even explain it in homilies in the past, but now it gets real. On two upcoming Saturdays (April 8 and 22), a couple of parishioners and I will set up a table with Catholic materials at Congress Heights metro station from 2-4 p.m. We will ask passersby if they’d like a miraculous medal or rosary as a way to start a conversation. The table will include these items as well as Catholic pamphlets. The goal is to engage people in a discussion about faith, spread the Good News mainly through personal witness, and invite them to visit Assumption. This is the basic premise of street evangelization.

Evangelization is necessary

As we have been saying here for over a year, evangelization is not just a good thing for our parish to do, it’s necessary. We all know that in order for our parish to survive and thrive in the future, we have to bring in more people now with the help of God. Hopefully, it will be young people and young families who will become the next generation of active, long-standing parishioners here. I drove through the neighborhood the other night and saw many young people and families on their porches and in their yards enjoying a warm, spring evening. They are around us!

Prayer teams are also critical

Other parishes in our area have had a similar approach when they have evangelized in the neighborhood. That is, they have teams of evangelizers as well as prayer teams. Those on the prayer teams want to be a part of the evangelization effort but don’t feel called to go out. It’s kind of like going into battle: you have those who fight on the front lines and those who are in the rear supporting them. Both are needed! In fact, in the Church, it is believed that the strongest element of the “Church militant” is the prayer contingent.

Ask God to open hearts and minds

So, if you sign up to be a prayer for street evangelization, please pray on that Saturday; if you signed up for the prayer teams, pray during the 2-3 p.m. or 3-4 p.m. hours. You are praying that God will bring people to our table with open hearts and minds. You are praying that we will be good, joyful, and inviting witnesses to the Catholic faith. And, you are praying that these conversations will be fruitful, and that the people will come to encounter the Lord here at Assumption. You have much to pray for! As the Lord says in the Gospel, “this can only come about through prayer“. In the future, we will hopefully have prayer teams come to the church for Adoration during the times of evangelization. Parishioners will literally bring their prayer requests for street evangelization (as stated above) to the Lord himself. For now, we ask you to do this in your home or preferred place of prayer. We have confidence that God will bless our team effort!

In the future, we will hopefully have prayer teams come to the church for Adoration during the times of evangelization. Parishioners will literally bring their prayer requests for street evangelization (as stated above) to the Lord himself. For now, we ask you to do this in your home or preferred place of prayer. We have confidence that God will bless our team effort!

All of us should be evangelizing regularly. All of us should be praying for more people to join our Assumption family. But, street evangelization is a particular and intentional way of going out. It has been fruitful in other places, and we trust that God has initiated this to do the same here.

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

Be Holy

7th Sunday
Be holy as God is holy
Mass
Be prayerful, respectful, reverent, silent, actively participating
    Dress to impress God
    Arrive early
    No bathroom breaks
    Respect the Eucharist!
    Prayer of thanksgiving
Be perfect as God is perfect
Love that stands out
“Unusual”
Pray for TrumpGrace

Too Legit to Quit

Christian prayer is…
    Legit
    Personal
    Bold
Our daily bread is
     Eucharist

Pray that Good Wins Over Evil in Our Nation

Homily from the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Blessed are those who mourn

God’s timing couldn’t be better with today’s first reading. Zechariah 12:10-11 describes vast and deep mourning of a nation. That is where we are as Americans given the tragedies in Florida last week. We are mourning not only the horrific deaths of 50 people at a nightclub and a 2-year-old boy at Disney World, but also grieving sin and its effects. Mother Angelica used to say that the beatitude “blessed are those who mourn” had nothing to do with funerals. What she meant was that true Christian mourning encompasses all of the effects of sin, not just death. With that understanding in mind, several of you have come to me this week in mourning. You have asked me, “what is going on?” and “what can I do?”. Cardinal Sarah of Guinea presented some cogent answers to both questions when he spoke at last month’s National Prayer Breakfast in DC. It’s a pretty amazing speech! He’s as spot-on and sharp as can be, and not afraid to speak the truth in love. Below are some excerpts. I am available to any of you who have concerns or questions about what is going on in our world. May you know the peace of Christ, Fr Greg

With that understanding in mind, several of you have come to me this week in mourning. You have asked me, “what is going on?” and “what can I do?” Cardinal Sarah of Guinea presented some cogent answers to both questions when he spoke at last month’s National Prayer Breakfast in DC. It’s a pretty amazing speech! He’s as spot-on and sharp as can be, and not afraid to speak the truth in love. Below are some excerpts. I am available to any of you who have concerns or questions about what is going on in our world. May you know the peace of Christ, Fr Greg

May you know the peace of Christ

Fr Greg

————————————–

Today we are witnessing the next stage – and the consummation – of the efforts to build a utopian paradise on earth without God. It is the stage of denying sin and the fall altogether. But the death of God results in the burial of good, beauty, love and truth. Good becomes evil, beauty is ugly, love becomes the satisfaction of sexual primal instincts, and truths are all relative…

Every human being, like the persons of the Trinity, has the capacity to be united with other persons in communion through the vinculum caritatis – the bond of charity – of the Holy Spirit. The family is a natural preparation and anticipation of the communion that is possible when we are united with God. The family, as it were, is a natural praeparatio evangelica – written into our nature.

This is why the devil is so intent on destroying the family. If the family is destroyed, we lose our God-given, anthropological foundations and so find it more difficult to welcome the saving Good News of Jesus Christ: self-giving, fruitful love…

Advanced societies, including – I regret – this nation have done and continue to do everything possible to legalize such situations. But this can never be a truthful solution. It is like putting bandages on an infected wound. It will continue to poison the body until antibiotics are taken.

Sadly, the advent of artificial reproductive technologies, surrogacy, so-called homosexual “marriage,” and other evils of gender ideology, will inflict even more wounds in the midst of the generations we live with.

Do we not see signs of this insidious war in this great nation of the United States? In the name of “tolerance,” the Church’s teachings on marriage, sexuality and the human person are dismantled. The legalization of same-sex marriage, the obligation to accept contraception within health care programs, and even “bathroom bills” that allow men to use the women’s restrooms and locker rooms. Should not a biological man use the men’s restroom? How simpler can that concept be?

How low we are sinking for a nation built on a set of moral claims about God, the human person, the meaning of life, and the purpose of society, given by America’s first settlers and founders! God is named in your founding documents as “Creator” and “Supreme Judge” over individuals and government. The human person endowed with God-given and therefore inalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” George Washington wrote that “the establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the motive that induced me to the field of battle.”

Today, we find ourselves before the battle of a sickness that has pervaded our world. I repeat: the battle of a sickness. That is what we face. I call this sickness “the liquidation, the eclipse of God.” Pope Francis describes the causes of this “sickness.” I quote:

“Religious liberty is not only that of thought or private worship. It is freedom to live according to ethical principles consequent upon the truth found, be it privately or publicly. This is a great challenge in the globalized world, where weak thought – which is like a sickness – also lowers the general ethical level, and in the name of a false concept of tolerance ends up by persecuting those who defend the truth about man and the ethical consequences.”

What are the remedies to this sickness? What should we do to protect the family, religious freedom, and marriage – as revealed to us by God?

Before such a distinguished gathering, I offer three humble suggestions.

1. Be propheticDiscern carefully – in your lives, your homes, your workplaces how, in your nation, God is being eroded, eclipsed, liquidated.

2. Be faithfulIn the words of Saint Catherine of Siena: “Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.”

3. PrayPope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est encourages us : “People who pray are not wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and seems to call for action alone.”

Ascension — Lift up your hearts

Happy Mothers Day!

Ascension
Mary / Assumption

Raised up / lifted up
Mothers
Christ
Into glory
Came to earth to take us to heaven
Salvation
Colossians 3:1-2
Hearts on things above
Heaven transcends earth
Holy Mass
Lord’s Prayer: 1 Tim 2:8
          Lift up holy hands in prayer

Triumph Over Temptation

1st Sunday of Lent
Family story
“Filled with the Holy Spirit”
Fasting of Christ
    Spiritual strength
5 Ways to triumph over temptation
Fasting
Scripture
Prayer
Reason
Sacraments
Eucharist —> Freedom

Do Whatever He Tells You

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st reading

“Do whatever he tells you”

Wedding homily
Mass / Euch
(“Good wine” of the New Covenant)
Confirmation / 2nd reading

What is He telling us?
How can we know?
How can we be sure it is Him?

DIVINE REVELATION
Scripture + Church (Commandments, teachings)
PRAYER
Spiritual partner / director
OTHER PEOPLE
EXPERIENCES

Moral certainty (beyond a reasonable doubt)
Once we know, do whatever he is telling you!

Parents / grandparents

Rejoice in the Lord

Every third Sunday of Advent, the Church rejoices. This is known as “Gaudete Sunday”, which uses the Latin word for “rejoicing”. But, we’re still in the season of Advent, a penitential season. We are still in preparation for the coming of the Lord.

In this way, the Lord is not here. Why are we rejoicing? Because “the Lord is near”.

Have you ever taken a trip and become excited as you neared your destination? Maybe it was a long car ride or flight. Or, maybe it was a drive home after sitting in traffic on 295?! Seeing a road sign that the destination was only a few miles away picked you up. Or, hearing from the flight crew that they’re starting the plane’s descent on the city to which you’re going got your heart pumping a little bit more. Reaching your home street should always be a source of excitement and comfort! In each of these situations, a sense of rejoicing that you are near carries you into the home stretch and helps you endure the remaining part of the trip.

This is what the Church is doing for us today by giving us “Rejoicing Sunday”. She reminds us the reason for the season which is the coming of the Lord. “The Lord is near!” While we will still endure the remaining days of Advent, we are uplifted by the announcement that the Lord is close. As we pass the halfway point and head for the home stretch, the Church gives us encouragement. “The Lord is near!”

For some, hearing that Advent is halfway over may be more of an alarm than a sound for rejoicing. They might be asking what the crowds asked John the Baptist, “what should we do?”

If you feel that you haven’t been tuned into Advent yet and want to finish strongly, the first thing I would say is what St. Paul wrote, “have no anxiety at all”.

This in general is easier said than done, I know. But, be at peace. The Lord has given us much practical advice through the sacred authors in today’s readings for the remaining part of our Advent journey:

1.) PRAY EVERY DAY: “make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving”

2.) DONATE TO THE OUTREACH CENTER: “whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise”

3.) GO TO CONFESSION: “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

The third suggestion is most fitting now as we are now in the Year of Mercy. I look forward to this year with you! We hope and pray that it will be a year of mercy and rejoicing in our parish during the jubilee.

This is a special Gaudete Sunday for me because I rejoice in each of you and in being your pastor. “I shall say it again: rejoice!”

–Sincerely in Christ,

Fr Greg