"And this emphasis that came from the Council has been continued in the popes and bishops, and got a big boost with the Synod on The Bible in the Life of the Church. The Pope's recent apostolic exhortation, Verbum Domini, urged Catholics to take up the scriptures and make them an important part of Catholic life and spirituality, and urged the practice of Lectio Divina.

"And it's all a preparation for the New Evangelization. All the teachings on the New Evangelization emphasize the fact that Catholics can't evangelize others outside the Church until we ourselves are evangelized. Studying scripture is really at the heart of the evangelization of the Catholic Church.

"Prayer always leads to action, worship always leads to witness. The final dimension I add to the tradition of Lectio Divina - it's there in the tradition - but the aspect of acting on the Word, witnessing to God's Word is critical."

One wonders, since Stephen spends so much of his days researching and writing about scripture, where he finds a place in his own life to use Lectio Divina. He is quick to respond with his usual enthusiasm.

"I integrate it together! I think we have this strange notion that studying scripture and praying scripture are two unrelated things, but they're not. The ancient rabbis showed us that they're not. The Patristic Fathers showed us that studying scripture and praying scripture are not two different things. I really do try to integrate praying my scripture with my work.

"I begin each day with a scriptural prayer. I light a candle and pray over the work I'll be focusing on that day, and gradually get into reading commentaries and other resources about the passages I'm working on. I'll return to that in prayer throughout the day; how it relates to my life, how I've failed, what I need to do, integrating what I do every day as my vocation into the rest of my life. And I think that's what God wants all of us to do; not separate our prayer and reading of scripture. One flows into the other. It flows back and forth.

"My work as a scholar is only one way of doing that work that God calls all of Christ's disciples to do—to read and pray the Word of God and integrate it into our lives."

But it definitely helps to have a guide who can point your mind and heart in the right direction. As the Church has clearly advised:

However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words. [Dei Verbum (12)]

Check out Stephen's Lectio Divina series at OSV.com. It is superb for both group and individual use, and crammed full of insights that will draw you deeper into the Scriptures, and more importantly, into your relationship with God—Who will transform your life in beautiful new ways.

The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; the fruit of service is peace. (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta)