Saturday, May 3, 2008

Operating in Search Mode: Lectio divina

Despite concentration on recent reading of mine that tends towards at best a skeptical investigation into current religious assertions, I do strive for balance. I've blogged from time to time (search by labels below) about my interest in the Carthusians, perhaps because of their sheer unreality compared with my own situation; it's the objective correlative of my own psychic doubt and secularized condition. In the charterhouses, monks and nuns too also wonder, and battle their own demons in their search for angelic wisdom. It's a psychomachia few on earth have the stamina for; misunderstood, romanticized, belittled, yet for a thousand years, it has endured, and thus it earns my admiration from my perch in a world that rushes past. I cannot assent to its rationales, but I understand those who accept the call to leave our distractions behind in their search for enlightenment.

Here, from the IFSB Yahoo Group (International Fellowship of St. Bruno: IFSB & Carthusian Information) devoted to Carthusian spirituality (that most ascetic of practices in the Catholic Church, but one that for many earnest devotees of the likes of Tibetan Buddhism, esoteric meditations, raw foodism, or extreme triathalons might be enlightening in its own relentless rigor that brings inner peace), a post on lectio divina, the ancient encounter of active engagement with scripture that serves as a daily feature of the monastic day.

"Authentic reading has the character of dissatisfaction..."
Posted by: "Michael E. Miller" oblcam333
Fri May 2, 2008 1:24 pm (PDT)
"In some senses the medium is the message. What are we doing in lectio divina? We are seeking God. We are hoping to hear God's voice and do God's will, but we are operating in search mode, We have not yet attained the goal of our ambition, and so our reading is fundamentally an expression of our desire for God. We are aware that God is not fully present to us - or that we are not fully present to God. It is this sense of divine absence that makes us search more diligently. Authentic reading, therefore, has the character of dissatisfaction; we always want to go further and deeper. As pilgrims, seeking may be more truthful for us than finding. In our practice of lectio divina, a patient receptivity may serve us better than a clamorous urgency to be enlightened.

"In an era of hyperstimulation it can be difficult for people to realize that enlightenment comes not by increasing the level of excitement, but by moving more deeply into calm. There is a kind of monotony that is not boredom but paves the way for a more profound experience. Those who approach lectio divina in the hope of a fireworks display will usually be disappointed. Sacred reading is not merely a form of pious entertainment. Its aim is to confront us with the truth of our own experience, and to accomplish this it has to break down the barriers that we interpose between awareness and the truth. We have to move to a level that is different from the one on which we operate in everyday life...."
~ Michael Casey, OCSO, "Sacred Reading - The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina", pages 8, 9.

Photo: Transfiguration Charterhouse, Vermont

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