4 Stages of Catholic Prayer

by Jill Kokemuller
Lectio divina can be practiced as a group or individually.

Lectio divina can be practiced as a group or individually.

The "Rule of Benedict," written by Saint Benedict of Nursia in the 6th century, prescribes a method of prayer containing four stages, or steps. This method of prayer is called "lectio divina," or "holy reading," and it is structured around reading the scriptures to gain an understanding of how God speaks to the individual. Originally written for monks, lectio divina is practiced by Catholic and other Christian individuals on a regular basis.

Reading

Lectio, or reading, is the first stage of prayer. The reading is most often passages from the Bible, but it can also be works by Christian authors such as John Wesley or Brother Gregory. In this stage, practitioners do not simply read the text, they concentrate on the words and savor them. If a phrase or sentence speaks to the reader, he or she is encouraged go over it and repeat it out loud or meditate upon it until the meaning is understood.

Meditation

Meditatio, or meditation, is the second stage of prayer. In this stage, practitioners build on the previous stage and meditate on the passages they have read that were particularly meaningful to them. They are encouraged to silently reflect on until they are committed to memory, and encouraged to contemplate why these passages were meaningful and how that resonance may relate to their lives.

Prayer

Oratio, or prayer, is the third stage. In this stage, practitioners are instructed to stop thinking about God's word and the passages they have just read, and instead open their hearts in response to what they havestudied and contemplated. Through prayer, practitioners speak to God and ask for grace and absolution through the heart's desire for these things, in order that the words read and meditated upon can effect a change in the reader.

Contemplation

Contemplatio, or contemplation, is the fourth and last stage of prayer. In this stage the practitioner simply rests in order that he or she may sense the presence of the divine and contemplate the significance of his or her faith.

About the Author

Jill Kokemuller has been writing since 2010, with work published in the "Daily Gate City." She spent six years working in a private boarding school, where her focus was English, algebra and geometry. Kokemuller is an authorized substitute teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Iowa.

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