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Praying the Bible: An Introduction to Lectio Divina Paperback – July 1, 1998
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian
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The book functions on two levels. First, it is a quick-moving yet impressive introduction to lectio divina. Second, it is a sustained argument for the rediscovery and practice of lectio divina today. In Magrassi's mind, piety and exegesis have been wrongly cleft. Our pride swells because of the advent of scientific methods applied with analytical rigor while our spiritual bellies swell because of malnutrition and starvation. Magrassi shows us how differently the church approached Scripture before the advent of scholasticism—as a source of living water, a kiss of eternity, a living Book, the saving power of God, an inexhaustible mystery, a mystical container of Christ. The connection between reading and prayer is stressed throughout, as is the indispensability of a deep, experiential encounter with the living, person of Christ as we appropriate the sacred text.
This book is not intended to function as a step-by-step "field guide" to prayed reading. Rather, it sets forth the richness of the historical tradition, the key ideas and the concrete dispositions employed, and ends with a terse summary of the four acts of lectio divina. The tone Magrassi writes with may be called "impassioned academic."
I completely disagree with the 2 star review by N Pemberton below. I didn't find anything confusing about this book. The only way I could see that being the case is if you have never read a semi-scholarly Christian book. But even if you are only familiar with the style of C. S. Lewis, that would easily prepare you for this book.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to deepen their experience of reading Scripture.
The author focuses a lot on inspiration. The same Spirit that inspired the Biblical writers, also inspires the text as we read it, and continues to inspire it as He applies it to our lives. Magrassi helps you expect God to work in you, as you contemplatively read and pray the scriptures.
This book has a wealth of quotes from the contemplative tradition spanning the history of the Church. I'd buy the book for the quotes, alone! There are also good footnotes for all the citations. Sometimes it is as if the saints from the past were writing the book; Magrassi weaves the quotes so well into his message.
Mariano Magrassi is a Catholic Archbishop, but this book is theologically neutral. As a Protestant, I found the book easy to receive. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
To summarize from the book, quoting Smaragdus:
"Reading enables us to learn what we do not know, meditation enables us to retain what we have learned, and prayer enables us to live what we have retained. Reading Sacred Scripture confers on us two gifts: it makes the soul's understanding keener, and after snatching us from the world's vanities, it leads us to the love of God" (p. 20)