October 9, 2017
Every Monday morning, a small group gathers in an Alcuin classroom not to learn, but to pray. Group members settle themselves around a small votive candle and meditate on God’s word, unbothered by the hustle of student life happening outside the classroom doors.
Lectio in the Library is a new program calling College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University community members together to begin their week in communal prayer. Early Christian monastics developed the practice of lectio divina and it endures as an essential component of Benedictine daily life.
Members of the monastic communities on both campuses pray the Divine Office three times a day. Many of them also do daily lectio on their own as a means of centering their lives around God.
Lectio divina, or “divine reading” is a slow, contemplative praying of Scripture. In recent years, the practice of group lectio has grown increasingly popular.
The group leader, Br. Joe Schneeweis, sees lectio as a personal encounter with a God who loves us. Even in a group setting, the prayer can be intimate and engaging. Lectio calls its participants to be honest with themselves because, as Br. Joe put it, “If you can’t be honest with God, who can you be honest with?”
Br. Joe started Lectio in the Library to encourage CSB/SJU community members to engage in the special form of prayer.
“I tried other ways of praying before coming to lectio. In this type of prayer, God engages us in personal conversation. I’ve grown closer to God through it and feel called to share the practice with others. During our Lectio in the Library sessions, I’m aware of the Holy Spirit working in other group members. It’s a powerful experience,” said Br. Joe.
In group lectio, a selected Scripture passage is read aloud several times. Each participant identifies and mulls over a particular word or phrase from the passage that speaks to them in a personal way. There are opportunities for group members to share insights and inspirations that emerge during prayer.
Why Mondays? “Starting off the week with lectio allows us to give the first fruits of the week to God,” said Br. Joe. “It helps all of us to remain mindful of God’s presence in our lives throughout the week.”
Lectio in the Library starts at 8:30 a.m. next Monday – and every Monday following – in the Reinhardt Learning Commons, room 381 in Alcuin Library. Lectio ends around 9:15.