my vision of the world.

Lectio Divina

Prayer of Tobiah and Sarah

As I was praying yesterday before the Blessed Sacrament I opened the Bible in no specific book as a form of letting myself be guided by His providence to read what He wanted to say to me that moment. The book I opened in was the book of Tobit. (I feel sorry for our brothers protestants that don’t accept this book as part of revelation, they’re loosing a lot of the revelation on divine providence)

That made me pray a lot with His providence in the lives of those characters not very much known by a big part of Christians. I know I don’t have much time to write today but I want to share what is most touching for me in this book.
Both Tobiah and Sarah raised their prayer to the Lord asking to die and end up with the sufferings they were enduring. As The book goes on we see that Raphael was the angel in charge of taking their prayers and presenting them to God. But what impresses me the most is the way their prayer is listened by God.

Tobiah asked to die and God healed hies eyes, gave him fortune and a daughter-in-law of his own kindred (which wans’t easy in his condition of exiled).
Sarah also asked to die and the Lord gave her the husband Faithful to His commandments.

Whats my point? Lets just pray knowing that God Knows what is best for us. Every time I read the book of Tobit I’m renewed in my confidence that the Lord Knows best what is good for me and even though I think I’m not being listened because things around me aren’t going where I want them to go I just Know God has something way better prepared for me Just around the corner.

Lesson leaned from the lectio Divina, God hasn’t set a trap to catch me, it is actually the contrary, He has a better life waiting for me if I let his angels help me.

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I want to see!

Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”

I see! What my eyes open! I need a deeper look and more time looking at what’s inside. I want my vision beyond the walls and do not stop at appearances. I want more than one sense, do not want to see without seeing. I need a closer look, a different way of seeing, a magnifying lens and an expanded horizon. I want to see the hidden and finding what is lost. I look at the sale without fear. I look through the heart. Want to learn to contemplate. I see hope, memories and aim to review the present. I see beyond me. I look over the other, at length, discovering who he is. I want the vision of complicity, the look of respect and love the glasses. I look concentrated, with the fixed point on the essentials. Do not want to do only with your eyes, I see by faith. I see with new eyes. I see what God wants.


Hope does not disappoint

I’ve been praying with this passage for a long time and I wanted to share with you some of the fruits the meditation of it has given me but I didn’t know how because it is so deep. Then My father gave me the idea of sharing some of his texts with you and here it goes.

For those who do not know my Father writes for Shalom Maná, a monthly magazine of the Shalom Community. Every month he gives some guidelines to help us in our Divine Reading, I hope it may help you.

Lectio Divina / Divine Reading

Translated from: Jose Ricardo F. Bezerra. (My Father BTW)

As we always do before start reading, let us ask the Holy Spirit’s help. Let us pray: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

You who are a reader of the Shalom Manna Magazine know the purpose of this section is to get you to read, meditate and pray with the Word of God through the ancient and proven method of the Lectio Divina which consists of four steps: reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation.

Take today’s passage of the Letter of Paul to the Romans, chapter 5, verses 1 to 11 (Rom 5:1-11) and let us do our lectio this day. Read slowly, the middle voice, the verses indicated.

As you could have seen this passage is of great beauty and depth. But our goal here is not to know or study the theological ramifications that it offers. We want to, through this reading and meditation,  pray and allow the Lord to enlighten us.
The Apostle explains the relations between faith, hope and love in the midst of tribulations we pass in life and after a chain of words he concludes by saying that “hope does not disappoint …” (v.5). How many times we have suffered disappointments, isn’t it? These unpleasing surprises are part of our day-to-day. We create expectations about things and people and when they do not happen, there comes disappointment. But God’s Word comes today to show us something that does not disappoint: Hope! You believe that? And there’s a reason why it, hope, does not disappoint. It is because, the passage continues, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us.” God’s love is the guarantee. God is faithful and when we put our hope in Him we can be sure that He will always give us the best. Have you ever felt that love in your heart? It Maybe pass through your head this thinking: “But I do not deserve …” Nobody deserves it! God’s love is free love, we haven’t done anything to deserve it. And it is the Holy Spirit received in our baptism who pours this love. And mind it, it is poured, giving the idea of abundance that is particular to God himself. Take a moment and think. Are you disappointed? Disappointed with something? Put your hope in the Lord, for He does not disappoint.
St. Paul goes on showing another truth. “Hardly anyone gives life to the just … But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners.” In the dialogue with Nicodemus, Jesus had already revealed that this is one of the greatest truths of the Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (Jn 3:16). What an incomparable grace, isn’t it? The Father,  moved by love, sent us Jesus who died to give us salvation, eternal life. Blessed love that gives us so undeserved gift! Meditate and pray about it.

Read the passage again. See other points. St. Paul says that faith gives us peace in God (cf. v. 1). How different is the lives of those who have faith … You notice the value he attaches to the trials. They generate perseverance. So do not be slaughtered when you go through great difficulties. Know that they will produce perseverance. And this will lead you to having a proven virtue. Well, the virtue will lead us to hope that will lead us to God. God is Love! God is our hope that does not disappoint! God is faithful!

Prayer
How many things the Lord has inspired us to pray with this lectio, isn’t it? Resume your prayer by praising Him and thanking Him for this wonderful love of a Father. Keep thanking Him for the love of Jesus who gave His life on the cross for us. Praise the Holy Spirit, Who is the love of the Father and of the Son Who pours Himself into our hearts … Thank also for the trials and difficulties, however painful they are, because they can become powerful ways to draw us closer to God. Continue your prayer in the way that the Spirit leads you… Contemplate at last, the glory of heaven that God has prepared for those who love him …
At the end of the Lectio, remember to take your notebook and write down the prayer of thanks that the Lord made you experience. If you can write to us giving your witnessing . It is a joy to have you as a reader.  (See the addresses on the back cover of this magazine or my email josericardo@comshalom.org.) (Or comment this post)

O God, Who has sent into this world your only Son to free mankind of old slavery, grant  those who hope in your mercy to achieve true freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

O Mary, Queen of Sinners and Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us!
See you next month!
Shalom!

For those who want to learn more about lectio divina this post may help.

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A big Joy (lectio Divina – Divine reading)

It’s been a while since I wrote about prayer for the last time. Christmas is at our door So I decided to put a post about prayer and about the Birth of Our Lord. What follows is one suggestion for Lectio divina that My father writes every month to “Shalom Maná” a magazine of Shalom Community. For those who don’t know this method of prayer and meditation with God’s Word I have another post about it that might help.

Lectio Divina (Divine Reading)

Here’s what my father wrote:

I announce to you a great joy

Whoever reads the gospel according to Luke has certainly noticed that one of its most striking features is the joy. We suggest that you pray with the Word of God according to the method of Lectio Divina, the language relating to the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.

Read today, at least two times LK 1,5 – 2.20.

Within a large segment as suggested, we should choose a few verses that have touched us most. See for example, the verses that speak of joy (cf. Lk 1,14.28.44.47, 2.10).

The evangelist speaks of the messianic joy foretold by the prophets in the OT (Cf. Zeph 3.14-15, Jl 2.21 to 27; Is 12.6, Zc 2.14, 9.9). The joy of the arrival of Emmanuel, God with us. The joy for the presence of God among men. That was the joy announced by angels and experienced by the Anawin,  by the poor of Yahweh, of which Mary is a prime example. To human eyes, the facts in this joy might seem, otherwise, reason for sadness or at least concern. The announcement of Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit took questions into the heart of Joseph who was appeased only after divine intervention. The high-risk pregnancy of elderly Elizabeth must have worried his family. The birth of Jesus in an overcrowded city like Bethlehem, a time of census ordered by the Romans must have worried Joseph And so on. But the contradiction is only apparent. The joy of God’s presence makes all relative. Honour, health, property, comfort, security… Everything loses its value before the real Good, the only absolute value. This is what is said or implied in the verses read.

Faced with these verses, meditate how is the joy (or lack of it) playing a role in your life. Do not be afraid to confront your difficulties with situations that are reported in the passage of the word you read. At Christmas time and at the end of the year, many feel an  indefinite sadness, not seeing reason for joy. We must let the joy of the birth of Jesus relativize all other facts or feelings. Then, says St. Paul to the Romans, “what will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?”(Romans 8:35)

Prayer

Your prayer may start like this: ‘Thank you, Lord God Almighty, who hath humbled to the point of making you one of us, like us in everything except sin. Thank you Lord Jesus because you have hidden these things from the wise and doctors, but revealed them to the little ones. Teach us to be poor and humble as you, and give us experience true happiness … ‘ you can put all that God showed your in your meditation.

To complete the last step of lectio, I suggest contemplating a manger or at least a picture of one, with the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph Immerse yourself in this great mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of love and joy.

At the end of your Lectio take your notebook to write down the graces and the good intentions for this day.

O God of goodness, who gave us the Holy Family as an example, grant us to imitate in our homes their virtues, so that united in the bonds of love, one day we can come to the joys of your home. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, our family is yours!
Shalom!


Lectio Divina (divine reading)

It’s my second post in a row I speak about prayer but how can I make it different if this is one of the most important things in my life?
Last post I wrote about prayer in a more general matter. Now I’d like to talk about a way of praying with the Word of God I discovered a long time ago.
I was 14 yers old and the bible wans’t a source of prayer for me, because I couldn’t find a way of praying with it. It was always more a study, or trying to understand… Than I’ve found the “method”. Which consists in four steps.

Lectio (reading)

to answer the question: “What does the Word says?”. To read it several times (at least 4) get into the spirit, into the context to perceive what is going on in the text.

Meditatio (meditation)

To answer the question: “What does the Word is saying to me?”. What comes out to me of what I’m reading? What ring a bell in my heart? What pushes me to change?

Oratio (prayer)

To answer the question: “What do I say to the Word?” What decisions I’m taking based on the words I’ve read? Is a moment to repent or to praise, to be happy for His promises or to just be quiet and feed the hope. As you can see it is a very personal moment.

Contemplatio (contemplation)

It is an even more personal moment. There is no questions or even answers. This step is a moment of a dialog heart to heart between you and your friend.

Enough with the theories!

We can take for example the passage of Mathew (chapter 8 verse 23) where we see Jesus calming the storm.
On the first step of our method we’re supposed to find what the word says, lets take the elements. There are in the boat at least three experienced sailors: Peter, Andrew and John (and probably James, John’s Brother was a fisher too). They have probably been through several storms. It wasn’t a little one this storm to make all the disciples scary and still Jesus was asleep. The only theory to explain this slumber of Jesus’s part is the stress; He had probably passed the night before in prayer and had a full day as we know His days were. Back to the passage we cans see that Jesus waking up just give the storm a big “shush” to the wind and the rain.( You know when we’re kids and we’re playing just under our dad’s window on summer Sundays during his sleep after lunch and out of a sudden a big “shush” comes out the window, the calm is immediate among us and slowly, and silently,  we move to another spot. Probably you have another story like this to tell, with your grandfather or a teacher but I think you can see my point .  I see this moment of Jesus’s live a bit like that).
Than Jesus turns and says to his disciples “Where the @%# is your faith?” The poor guys just stood there astonished.. Who is this man? …
This is where we get into the second step what does the word is telling me?
How great is our God! Our God is an awesome God! This is what the word is telling me!
I’m feeling like kneeling and praising his power. I want to sing his power and thank him for He is greater than any storm in my life. This is already the third step.
The fourth step has already begun because God is acting in our hearts as we open up to him and let the trust we have in Him grow and we abandon our lives to him.

Fell free to ask me more about prayer and Christian life.

Peace!