“Weekly Overview of Workshop”
By Way of Introduction
This brief paper assumes that you are familiar with at least the core paper, “Scripture Meditation: Lectio Divina”. Our intention is to make a few very basic suggestions to group leaders who may be performing this role for the first time. It is, of necessity, hypothetical and therefore somewhat artificial and stilted. However, we think it could help you draw up your own ‘plan of action’ for the first few occasions. You will soon settle on a routine and set of expressions which suit your style and your group. If you find it too constricting, leave it and follow your intuition as to what you would most likely find best.
We will also assume you, or someone else will have made any preparations regarding the meeting place.
If the whole idea of a group Scripture reflection session is new to most of your group, the first meeting may well be best spent talking about what will happen each time they meet. Also introducing a few of the “ground-rules” in “Guidelines for Leaders” would be advisable; but only enough to get the scheme underway, need be covered. Gradually other aspects can be included.
Most of us feel comfortable welcoming people, no matter how few or many turn up for this kind of thing. We like to encourage you to make a particular point of welcoming anyone of a different faith, even without actually identifying them or drawing attention as to who they are if that could embarrass them. Our hope is that neighbours and friends may join in without feeling any sense of awkwardness.
We recommend you flow from your welcome into a very brief reminder of what Lectio Divina is about. The following may help you.
We are here to: Listen:
• to each other;
• to the Scriptures;
• to the Lord Himself — who is the Living Word.
Either a short informal prayer or any chosen prayer is a good way to begin the actual time of Lectio Divina together. You could prearrange someone else to say this.
Reading the Word
The first step could be introduced something like the following:—
“Today / This evening we are going to read and reflect on (as an example) St. Luke’s Gospel, chapter 9 verses 28 to 36. This is the account of the Transfiguration of the Lord, which is our Gospel for next Sunday.
Before we read it, I would just like to note that our Lord has probably entered the second half of His 3 year ministry. A week before, He had put the Apostles to the test by asking, “Who do people say I am?” St. Peter alone declared Him forthrightly as the Christ — i.e. the Messiah — the Son of the Living God!
Eight days later — meaning here, the first day of the week which was soon to become the Day of the Resurrection — He takes Peter, John and James up a favourite mountain to pray. This is where our reading commences.”
[Note: We try and provide in our weekly reflection notes sufficient
information for you to prepare a brief, simple opening, such as the above,
to set the scene.]
In a way which suits your group, have the appointed text read aloud slowly and carefully without any breaks.
We recommend each person be given a sheet with the text printed on it — providing either the translation used on Sunday, or a copy from our web site. Each Sunday text is attached to our weekly Reflections.
Then say something like:—
“Let’s ponder that reading for a moment in silence — perhaps glancing
at the printed text if that helps, just to let it settle in our mind.”
Allow a couple of minutes. There will be more time later to look at the text in silence.
Some people like to have it read aloud again after the silent period. Your Choice.
Reflecting On the Word
First: A Suggestion
• A feature of our approach (as demonstrated in our Reflections
each week) is to walk through the text in a way which is continuous,
and allows you to feel present at the scene — up to a point.
• You could either pause to focus on each verse or cluster as
our notes display, or during your personal preparation,
form your own clusters to meet your time constraints.
• In cases where you want to focus on one or two key main ideas,
you could move more quickly over the parts in between.
However it is best to at least make some kind of comment which
keeps the continuity and flow of the passage intact.
Sometimes, actually getting started can be a little daunting for a new group leader. In our text, taken from the front page of our web-site, you could ask a simple question about the first verse:—
Eg. So our Lord took His three senior Apostles “up the mountain
to pray”. Does anyone have any thoughts about why He went up
a mountain — it’s something He seemed to do quite often?”
(This is a simple opener, straightforward and uncomplicated.)
The next step may be to ask:—
“How would you describe what occurred?” (Verses 30 and 31).
What is the significance of Moses and Elijah appearing with our Lord?”
“The three men with our Lord were all hard-working labourers,
but would they be so tired that they dozed off? So what is
happening to the three?” (Verse 32).
“St. Peter makes a very interesting suggestion as he comes out of
his drowsiness. What could we make of it?” (Verse 33).
“No sooner does Peter speak, when they are all enclosed in a dense cloud.
What on earth is going on?” (Verse 34).
“We do not know how long they were enclosed by the cloud,
but eventually a loud voice (perhaps almost like thunder)
declares: ‘This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.’
Would anyone like to comment?” (Verse 35).
“Suddenly, everything returns to what it was when they
went up the mountain.
How do you think the three would be feeling?”
“On looking back at the event, do you see any significance
to the sudden appearance of light which encompassed
“Our Lord, Elijah and Moses formed the central focus of
the light. The Father’s voice commanded that the Apostles
listen to His Son. Does that mean they are to ignore Moses
and the Prophet?”
“Would someone like to share a thought regarding this
Rounding Off The Reflection
When you consider it appropriate, you can bring the Reflection to a close in a number of ways:
- summarising some key ideas that arose;
- using a natural break of silence to go simply to the Responding below:
- reading a portion (probably best selected during your preparation)
of the conclusion from our Reflections (In this case the last section of the Transfiguration of the Lord). These are usually constructed to provide you with “closure” if you wish to use them.
Responding to the Word
“Let’s sit quietly for a moment and gently ponder what has taken place in our Gospel reading. If anything in particular impresses itself on us, by all means let’s hold that as a word or thought to which the Holy Spirit is drawing our attention; and respond in gratitude and love for this gift.”
We suggest allowing 2 or 3 minutes for this, or as long as feels right. This is a time for prayerful response to the Word and each person needs to decide for themselves whether they remain in prayer or whether they feel drawn on into the silence and stillness of meditation, come contemplation.
Your meeting time may be drawing to an end and so that would mean closing off at that point. (See an example of closing at the end of this paper.) If this is the case you might like to encourage them to find a space for Resting In The Word each day until you next meet. The Seven “R′s” of Lectio Divina offer a guide to doing this.
Remembering the Word and Resting
If you intend at your meeting to move on into silent Resting / Conteplatio it usually works best to introduce that by some comment like:―
“Let’s now hold our thoughts and prayers about our reading
and keep them close as we settle down to rest in Jesus, the
Living Word of God.”
You could play appropriate music for a moment and then move into silence ― for 5, 10 or 15 minutes, depending on your circumstances. When the time is up, you could either start a little music quietly to signal time to “come back” to the group setting.
Another way to do this is to start reciting the Lord’s Prayer quietly and slowly.
After a moment, when the group are ready, you could close with something like what follows below ― or as you personally devise.
“Thank you everybody for your participation. I do encourage you to seek out moments when you can bring to mind your thoughts on the Divine Word and let them lead you into a time of Resting in Christ our Lord and listening to His message.”
This can be followed by a short prayer or blessing of some kind. Sometimes group members share the Peace of Christ with one another and then take their leave.