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Finding courage to eat the Gospel
The simple power of Sister Maria Tasto’s Lectio Divina workshop lays in how she gets you to believe you can actually do this “Divine Reading” prayer form. What’s even better is how much it can help.
Her first reassuring words at the recent program at Kordes Center in Ferdinand, Indiana, were that lectio divina is not an intellectual exercise, and is not about reading and studying the Bible from cover to cover.
It’s just picking a Scripture passage and letting the words penetrate and marinate. As we continually reflect on the words of Jesus, we are transformed.
“The transformation happens beneath our consciousness,” said Sister Maria. “Like life experiences, the lectio divina experience changes us. When you are engaged in Scripture, you are in a relationship with God. God takes the initiative, and transforms us.”
The biggest hurdle is the willingness to be influenced by Scripture. Most of us want to be in charge, and are unwilling to stoop low enough to listen to God. As Sister Maria puts it, “our biggest sin is we all want to be little gods.”
That stings a bit. Maybe because the truth hurts. But it’s painless to try lectio.
The beauty of lectio is that it’s built on God’s love for us. Many religious denominations emphasize fear and guilt, traits difficult to build a relationship on.
“With lectio, we can rest in God’s love for us, if we just let it happen,” said Sister Maria. “The biggest truth of the spiritual journey is that God dwells within us, that God is working inside us. So we are never alone, no matter what. God never abandons us, and never gets tired.”
The most exciting discovery is realizing we already have what we are looking for. Sister Maria said God has freed us to be who God created us to be. Our spiritual journey is discovering the word that we are.
“The key is opening one’s heart to God,” she said. “And we just need to believe we already have what we need.”
Those words, spoken with so much peace, love, and kindness, followed by Sister Maria’s soothing smile, open the gate to the power of lectio divina.
“As we sit with the Word of God in Scripture, we need to let go of immediate judgment,” said Sister Maria. “We must let the text speak to us, let it penetrate our blockages. We must ponder it, hold it. Scripture is like a rose bud. It opens in time. We must be patient with it.
“Scripture is always calling us to grow, and we should pray for the gift of courage to hear what it is saying. When we listen to the Word, we can respond in ways we didn’t think possible.”
Early Christians were encouraged by St. Bernard of Clairvaux to “eat the Gospel,” to learn from God who God is.
Sister Maria smiled softly at the reference, saying, “A Gospel has the taste of fresh bread. Sink your teeth into it, for it was baked for you. It’s such a treasure we take for granted.”
Comments? Questions? I welcome your feedback, and ideas for stories on how the sisters touch lives. Contact Greg Eckerle at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 812-367-1411, ext. 2636.