Holy Hour for the Holy Innocents

Today is a good day to pray for an end to abortion.

One very fruitful prayer method is called lectio divina.

Mark Shea provides an excellent guide to the four phases of this type of prayer:

Very briefly, Lectio Divina goes like this: In the lectio portion, you read a portion of the word of God (say, today's Mass readings, for instance), paying special attention to each word and looking for the connections between the passages you are reading. If you are using Mass readings, the connections should be fairly easy to find, since the readings are generally chosen because they relate to one another in some way. Think of lectio as harvesting the grapes.

In meditatio, you begin squeezing the juice from the grapes. One way to begin meditating on the Scripture is simply to begin committing it to memory until you can recite it perfectly. As you do, you will tend to notice the words and their connections more.

In oratio, you let the juice you have harvested sit in the oak barrel of your soul and ferment. Like Mary, you "ponder these things in your heart." You ask God questions, wrestle with the text, and try to wring out of it the meaning He put there. You may notice, for instance, that Jesus says or does something unexpected or strange, such as touching somebody's tongue with spittle to heal them or answering some charge with a cryptic remark. Don't simply let that go by. Ask, "Why would Jesus use spit when He could have just spoken and achieved the same result? Why does Jesus call the Canaanite woman a 'dog' but then commend her faith and answer her prayer? Why does the inspired writer choose this image of, say, a shepherd or a vine? Why would the psalmist say the Lord God is a sun and shield (two things you would not normally connect and two things that don't seem especially connected to the rest of the images in Psalm 84)?" "Oratio" means prayer -- talking to God about all this, expecting Him to give you insight both into the Scripture and into its application to your life.

Finally, there is contemplatio: Allowing the aged wine of reflection on the Scriptures to bring you face to face with God in worship and action. Worship, you will note, comes first. As God reveals Himself to us through the Scriptures, we are to be moved to both gratitude and obedience. Indeed, our gratitude is meaningless without obedience, and mere human busyness is empty without rootedness in the love of God. Contemplatio places us in the love of God that no human effort can earn, since God has both willed us into being and offered His Son for us with no merit on our part earning these unfathomable gifts. But contemplatio inspires us to act with the love of God for others -- not earn our salvation, but to live it out in union with Christ.

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