Lectio Divina: What is it? 

The beauty of Lectio Divina (divine reading) is that it deepens our relationship with Jesus Christ as we slowly let Jesus speak to our hearts.  

In the Religion classroom I am always concerned that as we go along, at times, we are just going through the motions and that the hearts of the children are not engaged.  

Through The Ages 

In our school, we pray Lectio Divina from preschool through eighth grade. For the very little ones, the Scripture is very simple (for example: God is love). The little ones are led by the teacher to reflect on the simple phrase and share their thoughts.  

As the grade level increases, picture drawings and eventually written reflections are incorporated into the Lectio Divina. It is always called Lectio Divina (“Divine Reading”) so the children can identify that we are praying with God’s Word. 

The following is an example of how the 7th and 8th graders approach Lectio Divina using Life of Christ Lectio Divina Journal

Once the daily prayer is completed, we open our Bibles and begin Lectio Divina. I love this time of the class. We begin with a minute of silence using the Life of Christ Lectio Divina Journal Companion video series on the Openlight Media website.  

The children sit and are still as they prepare to hear God’s Word. Each week we follow the “Life of Christ,” watching the story of Jesus unfold in a deeper way through Lectio Divina. Each day we do this to prepare to read and listen to the Scripture for the week.  

Day 1 – We look for the phrase that speaks to our hearts. I can see the children looking for the verse that will touch their heart as the Scripture is being read out loud in the app while they are reading along silently.  

Day 2 – We dive a little deeper and explore the Scripture in discussion.  

Day 3 – We listen to commentary and reflect on what the Scripture is saying to us. There is sacred art that reflects the Scripture and we listen to the commentary by Dr. Elizabeth Lev.  

Personal Growth and Testimony 

Here are some thoughts from eighth graders who have been praying Lectio Divina for over a year: 

“After observing the life of Jesus and all the good he did for the world, my relationship with Jesus has become stronger. I’ve seen the good that Jesus did for us, and how it resulted in harsh persecution by people who have witnessed the greatness of God. Now I’m so much more grateful for how Jesus suffered for us after seeing what he’d gone through his entire life, only for trying to save us from sin.” 

“Lectio Divina has also taught me to think of how I can implement what is being said to my life. Lectio Divina impacts my relationship with Jesus by allowing me to speak with Him on a more personal level every day. This has caused me to better my focus on Christ and get less distracted during Mass.” 

“When there are readings in Mass I’m not confused on the meaning because I have heard it and deciphered it in my Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina also has shown me people who have laid down their life for Christ, and thanks to Lectio Divina, it has made me want to follow that path and be a true disciple of Christ.” 

“Lectio Divina has changed my view on Scripture. I have begun to realize that Jesus was just like us. He struggled, he felt pain, he felt the pain of losing those you love. He understands us because he was one of us.” 

“Often at Mass, we don’t pay attention to the words being read to us, we just sort of gaze off. But, when we do Lectio Divina, we are getting deeper into the Scripture and learning more about it day by day. Therefore, as we learn about it, the more we remember Jesus’ teachings and life. Digging deeper into Scripture can be hard if you are just reading a Bible, but when doing Lectio Divina, we become connected to Christ in ways we weren’t before.” 

“Praying Lectio Divina impacted me because it makes me relaxed and calm to start my day. It also has taught me a lot about my faith and what Jesus was really like.” 

Impact of Lectio Divina on Our School’s Culture

The children write from their hearts about how the Scripture speaks to them and how it may cause them to listen to the Holy Spirit in their day. Often, we look for the virtues that are being exemplified in the Scripture, or select virtues we should try to cultivate in our own lives. Having a better understanding of the virtues is important as they are woven into all that we do to become disciples of Christ! 

In the school there is a culture of kindness that comes from praying with Scripture and looking to the virtues to help us to be the best versions of ourselves. Visitors to our school have commented that there is a noticeable sense of kindness and respect when they are in the classrooms. Lectio Divina has become such a part of the culture of our school that I cannot imagine how we could be what we are without this form of prayer! 

​Joan Latto teaches religion at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic School and is the Director of Religious Education at St. Issac Jogues Catholic Church in Hinsdale, IL.  She has been teaching for over 25 years and has taught second grade to eighth grade. Latto has a BA in Elementary Education and a M.S.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. It is her hope and prayer that the children who graduate from St. Isaac’s will live joyful,  virtuous, prayerful lives.

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