Lectio Divina and Private Prayer

“The brothers should have specified periods for prayerful reading.” ~ Rule of Saint Benedict 48.

The monk is a man of prayer, striving always for an increasingly intimate union with God. That striving is grounded in and nourished by the essential monastic practices of lectio divina and private prayer.

Lectio divina is an effort on the part of every monk to understand and act upon what God is saying to him, to his community, and to people in our time. Lectio is focused primarily on the Word of God in Sacred Scripture, for which reason each monk will have his own copy of the Bible and will devise ways suitable to himself for devotion to Sacred Scripture. Lectio in a broader sense would also include commentaries, patristic writings, and spiritual classics of all times and places.

Private prayer and communal liturgical prayer are interdependent. One who has learned to pray in private will derive greater benefit from the liturgy and will discipline himself to become attentive to the Word of God when it is proclaimed. Periods of silence before and during the liturgy will be welcome opportunities for him to respond to God in private prayer. The liturgical documents of Vatican II specified that there be periods of silence at various times.

An open and receptive silence is essential to union with God in prayer. We mutually support our lives of prayer by maintaining an atmosphere of silence and recollection in the cloister at all hours.

Monks make a serious, ongoing effort to discover times, places, bodily postures, and techniques which will be helpful in making their private prayer fruitful.