I nicked the following graphic from the Paulist Press website, where they are promoting their new Catholic Prayer Bible: Lectio Divina Edition. It’s coming out in a couple of months; and when I first heard about it, I was excited at the concept: a Bible designed to support the practice of lectio divina. Wow. I was looking forward not only to acquiring my own copy, but to selling it through the store where I work.
But then I saw this graphic, and my anticipation turned to dismay. Look at it carefully: it boldly pronounces to the world that the four step process of lectio consists of reading, reflection, prayer, and action.
I don’t know about you, but the last time I checked what Guigo II had to say, the classical model of lectio consisted of these four steps: lectio, meditatio, oratio and contemplatio. Okay, so lectio is reading, meditatio can be interpreted as reflection, and oratio certainly is a key form of prayer.
But since when is contemplatio a code word for action?!?!?!? Have we as a culture become so frightened of contemplation that we have to re-invent the very spiritual practices that were designed to foster contemplation, so that they function as self-help programs instead?
Okay, I realize I’m reacting to an ad. Maybe this was designed by some overzealous undergraduate intern who doesn’t know any better. Maybe the actual Bible will retain the original understanding of lectio. One can hope.
But — if this ad is accurate and the commentary in this Bible really does re-invent lectio divina as some sort of spiritualized goal-setting exercise rather than as an invitation to contemplation, then I cannot in good conscience recommend this book. We shall see.