Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 23, 2006
Trekking faith's path together
Archbishop Thomas Collins' Lectio Divina meditations open pathways to God
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"His reading of the Bible strengthens my faith."
- Lois Nauta
"I think this is very much part of my mission as a bishop to join together with the people encountering the Lord through the word of God and that's what Lectio Divina means," he said after the event.
"It's not Bible study where we teach and point out history and things like that. It's together we do this. I do this publicly here, but really all it is is I open my mouth and turn up the volume; I sort of share with them that way as a bishop but when no one is around, I do this as well."
Part of the Letter of James describes the tongue as an unresting evil, full of the poison of death, used to both bless and to curse.
"St. James teaches us to use the tongue for good," the archbishop said. "The same tongue that praises the Lord cannot be used to destroy another person."
The Letter of James will be the theme for the whole year. Last year Lectio Divina centred on the Ten Commandments.
In previous years, Collins has led Lectio Divina on the Psalms, the Sermon on the Mount, the parables, the luminous mysteries and passages on life in the Spirit.
"And at the end of each year I always ask the people to suggest what they would like to do," he said.
All of the sessions are taped and according to Collins "some people get these tapes in different parishes and they sit around and listen to them." He said there are groups that have started using the tapes rather than coming to the basilica.
"On purpose I never prepare (a session beforehand)," the archbishop explained. "I just take a look at the thing a little bit ahead of time, I pray about the readings a bit, but it's not meant to give information about the word of God. It's just what comes to mind in my own mind."
During each 45-minute session, Collins pauses often to give people a chance to do their own meditation.
"I don't know what the word of God means to each individual, so in the Lectio Divina there is always this silence so people can really do it themselves," he explained.
"But what I do try to do is to throw in some thoughts and I hope I'm being helpful.
"But it's really not meant to be me teaching about the Bible; it's really together we are doing this. "
One of the archbishop's goals is to help people encounter God through Scripture. But that shouldn't end when the Lectio Divina ends.
"When they are home, they should do the same thing; they should sit down in some quiet place for a few minutes and flip open the Bible and then read it aloud, think a bit about it and then spend some time in silence applying it to their lives," he said.
"So whatever hope is that this public form of Lectio Divina will lead everyone to a daily private form of Lectio Divina."
Asked whether his objectives are being met, the archbishop said, "I have no idea. People say they find it helpful, but I don't have any way of knowing what the fruits of this would be. I think it's a good thing to do.
As long as people are coming I'll do it."
Nauta, who has been attending the sessions for almost two years, likes Collins' approach and finds it helpful. "I don't like to miss any of his lectures because his reading of the Bible strengthens my faith."
The woman also likes the setting at the basilica which she described as "peaceful and calm."
"The same tongue that praises the Lord cannot be used to destroy another person."
- Archbishop Collins
Loretta Purge of Good Shepherd Parish has been attending Lectio Divina at the basilica on and off since the practice started. She was away from the Church for almost 30 years and says the Lectio Divina helps her to learn about her faith in plain language.
"I get hope and inspiration (by attending these sessions)," she said. "I have had a very tough journey and this gives the hope to continue on."
Aline Garneau of St. Theresa Parish has attended a few sessions and said they give her inspiration to lead a Bible-study group at her parish.
"I come because I love Scripture; I read Scripture everyday," she said. "And the archbishop is so knowledgeable, he makes Scripture come alive."
Lectio Divina tapes are available through Discovery Group Communications at $5 each; CDs are $8 each. To order, call Laverne at 477-6076.
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