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Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina Paperback – 1996
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Fr. Casey starts by contrasting modern literacy with the monastic experience: we are surrounded by words (e.g., wander around the immensity of Amazon's website!) and much of the content is in soundbites. We get quick news summaries, advertisements, and so forth, which can be often read in a few minutes or less. Medieval monasteries would often only have a relative handful of books, which were often hand-copied over a period of years. If the monastery were to get a new book, it had to be for the ages, of great importance.
Fr. Casey is quite balanced in that he does not suggest that the Medieval times were necessarily balanced--he is just as happy for modern ages as anyone--but says that we can learn from this older, slower way of reading. Following this perspective, he takes us through the discipline of lectio divina, "sacred reading", and the pattern of slow, reflective reading.
The book challenges, as Casey is supportive of St. Benedict's maxim that once you select a book for lectio divina, that you follow through till the end, and not switch books in the middle. This is to respect that Biblical texts are often structured in unfamiliar ways, and the full meaning does not come out till you finish the book. It is also to stay humble: we are not going to cut off God's word when it is convenient, but let it take us where it wants while we journey with a particular book of Scripture.
That said, there is an entire chapter on various distractions and barriers that people may encounter while prayerfully reading Scripture--Fr. Casey is clear that this book is not Gospel itself, and that different people will need to adapt his ideas to their own lives.Read more ›
Fortunately, I did read with diligence the paperback whose full title is "Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina," published by Liguori/Triumph. One thing the book explained was the value of using Lectio as a means of reading texts other than the Bible. It said the Fathers were a good source for this. I had not thought such all right to do, but had in my mind that only the Bible could be read. The title of the book, and its content, in meaning, broadens the approach to sacred reading, including other texts. I found this helpful, and personally broadening. In fact, I had some relief since I did want to do this kind of reading with other texts--but thought it inappropriate to the Godly.
Another thing about this book, it is on my reading list for Oblates, which was changed just after I spent ten years reading the old list. Now I am almost at the end, and this book comes at the end of reading the books on the list. I am pleased to see that it did refresh me.
I liked how it is helpful with The Rule of St. Benedict. In the Preface, it says, "You will find in this book many references to Saint Benedict's Rule for monasteries and to other classical works of the monastic tradition." This is a reliable book for those inclined to The Rule, and to "The Spirit of Monastic Lectio.Read more ›
Update: this review was originally written in 1999. Five years later, I still haven't changed my mind, and use it as a textbook for my classes on the Benedictine Way.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a Religious Studies major I am enjoying this as a brush-up. It is really rich and soothingPublished 1 month ago by dh60
This well written book on the techniques of Lectio Divina covers the theological as well as practical elements of the approach. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Edward J. Barton
A little long winded and the thought process seems unclear at times but a good read and recommended.Published 23 months ago by Aztex
Excellent overview with suggestions for going beyond the biblical text to base your lectio on. His presentation addressed those of us outside the monastic world where lectio... Read morePublished 23 months ago by John Anderson