The practice of a group lectio divina opens up the dialogue between person and God to the whole community. As wisdom and insights are shared, the diversity of inspiration is recognized and celebrated. Enriched by this diversity, we marvel at the richness and depth of the Word of God – speaking personally to each of us, in our own place and time.
Here is one example of a group lectio divina format. It works well in small faith communities, RCIA groups, or as an opening prayer to a meeting or gathering. It requires little preparation, though gentle facilitation is sometimes needed so enthusiastic souls don’t jump onto the homiletic or lecture wagon! A wonderful way to end the process is for each participant to say a prayer for the person on their left. The prayers often reflect a real listening and understanding of what was shared. And it’s such a blessing to hear your own intentions offered in prayer by another.
One of my most surprising experiences of a group lectio divina came during a confirmation class for grade seven and eight students. I was invited as a guest to give a presentation on prayer. The class was on a week-night evening, in the church basement. About ten students slouched around the table in varying degrees of consciousness. I recognized the look and attitude – and lowered my already small expectations.
I went ahead and introduced the process and we began. The reading was read for the first time, and a simple word or phrase was shared by all. This was easy and not too threatening. The second reading required them to listen and share on what they saw or heard in that word or phrase…what was God saying to them? One by one they began to share the most wonderful insights. The third reading required them to listen to what God wanted them to DO with the inspiration. What action were they called to? Again, the honesty and depth blew me away. The prayers offered for each other showed that they ‘got it’!
A group lectio divina allows us to spend ‘heart time’ together in a mutual listening to God’s Word. It allows us to balance out the head time that too often rules our religious education classes and meetings. As St. Benedict so wisely teaches, we need both ora et labora….prayer and work.