Lectio is a traditional monastic practice, a meditative reading of Scripture, opening our hearts to God. It is a daily walk to the well of living water where the Lord awaits us. This can be a joyful meeting; it can also be a struggle. The word of God not only refreshes us; it also challenges and judges us, gradually forming in us the mind of Christ.
Bits & Pieces of our Lectio
- St. Bernard, On the Song of Songs, Sermon 4: 4
The heartfelt desire to admit one’s guilt brings a man down in lowliness before God, as it were to his feet; the heartfelt devotion of a worshiper finds in God renewal and refreshment, the touch, as it were, of his hand; and the delights of contemplation lead on to that ecstatic repose that is the fruit of the kiss of his mouth. Because his providence rules over all, he is all things to all, yet, to speak with accuracy, he is in no way what these things are. (…) Yet he who by his very nature is the principle through whom all creatures spring into being, cannot be far from any of us, since without him all are nothing. More wonderful still, though no one can be more intimately present to us than he, no one is more incomprehensible. For what is more intimate to anything than its own being?
Who would not like to sit at your feet like Mary of Bethany, be touched by your hand like the leper? How many times I have asked you: stay with me, it is getting dark; but I have not heard your answer, felt your presence…
You have not left me though, you never do. Each single time you have driven me deeper into the night, there where there is a new way of seeing, of feeling. You have driven me, you are driving me to the place where you touch and give life, where you kiss me, kiss all beings, with the kiss of your Spirit.
- Bl. Guerric of Igny, First Sermon for the Purification
Where then is the man so stubbornly and mistakenly presumptuous of his own sanctity as to refuse to undergo the cleansing action of the remedy of penance? (…) I only wish, my dear brethren, that we, in our sinfulness, had the same humility as the saints have in their virtue.
I have remembered these words a number of times since I read them, and they have made me a little freer. Humility is not a virtue in fashion, but without it there is no true freedom; freedom from having to bend all of reality to fit our plans, our ideas; freedom from the need of constant praise, constant affirmation of our worth.
Usually our greatest penance, our greatest humiliation since the crib, is that reality does not obey our wishes. Let’s finally accept this salutary remedy, that of not closing our eyes to all that reminds us of our weakness, our sinfulness. It won’t make us the saints we had planned to be, but will give us the humility of just being who we truly are, who we are called to be.
- William of St Thierry, On Contemplating God II
For what in fact is happiness? Does it not consist in wanting only what is good, and having all one wants? Then to want you, to want you vehemently – that is, to love you and to love you exclusively, for you will not tolerate being loved along with any other thing whatever, carnal or spiritual, earthly or heavenly, that is not loved for your sake—to want you thus is to want nothing but what is good; and that is tantamount to having all one wants. For everyone possesses you just insofar as he loves you.
Is it not wonderful? But why sometimes, only sometimes, it seems like it does not work that way? Do I really know what happiness is? What kind of happiness my heart searches for?
Maybe, just maybe, I need to believe that you belong to me not only because I love you, but because you love me.
- Guerric of Igny, Second Sermon for the Annunciation
O faithful soul, open wide your bosom, expand your affections, admit not constraint in your heart, conceive him who creation cannot contain.
How far are you going to let me in? , you whispered.
I hesitated; I was not sure what you meant. What am I willing to give you? My hands to work for you; my feet to follow wherever you go; my heart so that you will be my treasure and my love. Will that be enough?
Then I saw you on the cross; your arms outstretched, your feet nailed, your side wide open; and I heard you knocking even deeper, waiting at the door behind which boundaries are gone. How far are you going to let me in?
“Let it be done to me according to your word”.
- William of St Thierry, Meditations
Open to us your body´s side, that those who long to see the secrets of your Son may enter in, and may receive the sacraments that flow therefrom, even their redemption. Open the door of your heaven, that your redeemed may see the good things of God in the land of the living, though they still labor in the land of the dying. Let them see and long, and yearn and run; for you have become the way by which they go, the truth to which they go, the life for which they go.
The door was still closed, but he saw it open. He was still laboring in the land of the dying, but he received the promise of being in paradise that same day. He was a thief, and so am I. He had a cross, and I have mine. Jesus, help me to look at you as he did, and long for you, and yearn and run, entering through the narrow door always open, the door of your wounded heart.
Teach me the language you speak with your sons, and they with you, and make me understand those little signs, by which you give understanding hearts to know what is your good, acceptable and perfect will. (…) For your voice never comes empty; your voice is your grace, and it is heard, not outwardly, but sweetly and effectively within.
Meditation 4: 12-13
– Does God speak? But… can you hear him?
– Yes, but you have to learn his language. That has been my answer, when more or less openly I have been asked.
God speaks to the heart, to the soul of those who really want to listen, to those who want to love him. For the soul´s sense is love: by love it perceives whatever it perceives (Meditation 3:8).
God´s words and God´s silence are love. Jesus, do not let me forget it: that your quiet presence whispers not only words to the ear of my heart but graces to transform me in you.
I know O Truth, with utter certainty, that I am seeking you; but whether I seek truly, that I do not know.
One thing I have desired of the Lord, that I will require — namely that, even as the face of my sore plight is lifted in its anguish up to you, so may your mercy´s face shine on me more and more, till it consumes entirely my wretchedness and gloom.
O God, I search for you, but what is that I search for when I seek you? What is that which I want when I want you?
I grope in darkness, attracted by your light; but if you draw too close, I recoil – this old self is the only thing I know.
O God, you do not deceive us; all your promises are true. Do not let me deceive myself. Speak to my heart once more; rekindle my truest desire, and all my fears will burn away.