By Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M.

How can we love someone we do not know? God’s self-revelation has been given to us through Scriptures and Jesus, the Incarnate Word. It is necessary that we are formed in the reading and meditation of the Word so this living Word can become our nourishment and the core of our commitment as baptized people of God.

A traditional form of prayer for many Christians is Lectio spanina – spanine reading. This practice has been kept alive through the monastic traditions and continues to be a way of union with God. This form of prayer teaches us to flavor and enjoy the various forms of the spanine presence. We take pleasure in spending time with God through his Word.

This experience of God goes through four stages.

Lectio or reading helps us to “listen with the heart” as God communicates with us. Since God’s voice is often soft and gentle, there is need for silence. Through lectio we read slowly and attentively, listening for the word or phrase God is saying to us.

In Meditatio, or meditation, we find the space to “ruminate” this word or phrase – we start treasuring in our hearts the values of the text. Thus, we allow that God’s word becomes incarnate in our lives.

The third stage Oratio, or prayer, is a dialogue with God, a conversation with the One who has invited us to be lovingly embraced. We open ourselves to the Word we have listened to and meditated until it touches our deepest self and transforms our inner being. Finally, we rest in the presence of God and His Word which has invited us to accept a transforming embrace.

It is at this moment where no more words are needed -Contemplatio, or contemplation, takes place. As we delight ourselves in the communion with the Lord, we also start taking concrete decisions in our lives according to the Word we have heard and pondered. In an attitude of obedience we model our actions.

It is contemplation which leads us to Actio, or action.

Lectio spanina helps us to discover that there is no place in our hearts which cannot be open and offered to God. You will have an opportunity to learn more about this form of prayer Sunday, Nov. 22, at the Catholic Institute for Evangelization sponsored by the Office for Youth and Young Adults of the Archdiocese.

Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M., is the director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization in Philadelphia.