The third instalment of “Lectio” is called “Lectio & Meditatio: the first rungs of the ladder”. Last week Dr. Grey introduced us to Guigo the Carthusian, or Guigo II, who was the ninth prior of the Grande Chartreuse. He wrote his “Scala Claustralium” which we call the ladder of monks in English. In this work, he proposed a four-step process to do Lectio Divina. He starts with “Lectio” or reading. We must begin by reading scripture. We open scripture to hear God speak to us. Dr. Grey makes the important point that as we start this first step, we must read slowly. He gives some examples from Psalm 1 on how to try and analyze the text and begin reflection on it. Once we begin that, we are actually taking the second step which is Meditatio: we are beginning to meditate. He makes a very good and important distinction between oriental meditation styles (Zen Buddhism et al.) and truly Christian meditation. He gave this great quote from Guigo, “Meditation is the busy application of the mind to seek with the help of one’s own reason for knowledge of hidden truth.” In simpler words, meditation is focusing the mind on something (in this case a Biblical text) and seeking out both objective truths (those things which apply to everyone) and even more subjective ones (lessons I draw out just for me where I am at in my life).
Dr. Grey also makes the important point that we may be already experienced in prayer and we might jump from step 1 to 3 or 4. That is not a problem. The ladder is not meant to be a straight jacket, but a runway or a launch pad to our conversation and relationship with God. A little tip that he hasn’t mentioned yet, is to invoke the Holy Spirit for guidance in our prayer at the very beginning. Summing up his whole ladder, Guigo said, “Seek in reading and you will find in meditating; knock in mental prayer, and it will be opened to you by contemplating.” This is actually #2654 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. As our Bishops assembled the Catechism, they thought this was important enough to include.