Lectio Divina

Here is a further explanation of the four movements of lectio divina (based on T. Hall’s Too deep for words: rediscovering lectio divina):

Lectio: Reading and listening to the Word of God

  • listening and hearing the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God
  • seeking to be attentive and alert (spine ideally to be erect)
  • being with the Lord in a disposition of love and trust
  • the same text is heard by each individual in a wholly unique way
  • grace may reveal something from the text: a gift of the Spirit

Meditatio: Reflecting on the Word

  • a process in which words, events, etc.. are prayerfully pondered and reflected on
  • an activity of the intellect aided by grace

Oratio: The Word touches the heart

  • Oratio is a prayer of the heart
  • keeping our heart open to the Lord and putting ourselves at the disposal of the Spirit
  • less activity of the mind, as the heart takes over in a simple pouring out of love and desire
  • we learn to be at home with a patient waiting upon God, in the spirit of Psalm 42: As a deer yearns for running streams, so I yearn for you, my God.

Contemplatio: Entering the silence “too deep for words”

  • in the three movements outlined above we are in the realm where our activity has remained the dominant factor
  • in Contemplatio, God is taking over more and more by “closing down” our natural faculties of reason and imagination, and taking away the affective feelings of satisfaction and fervour
  • all that is asked of us in contemplation is that we “stay quiet before the Lord, waiting longingly for him” (Psalm 37)
  • Contemplation can be described as a “resting in God” or a “loving gaze” upon god or a “knowing beyond knowing” or a “rapt attention” to God
  • we come to the deep knowing and realisation of the truth that we are immersed in God, receiving from God life and being and love at every moment. In God “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17.28)
  • St John of the Cross states that “contemplation is nothing else that a secret and peaceful inflow of God, which, if not hampered, fires the soul in the spirit of love…”
  • this fire of love is not commonly felt at the outset…because the soul for want of understanding has not made within itself a peaceful place for it.” (Dark Night, 1036, 11.1)


Hall, Thelma (1988). Too deep for words: rediscovering lectio divina. New York, USA: Paulist Press.