Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with his goodness, lost in his love.
It has been very sad to read about monastaries and convents across the US and around the world, where men and women for over 1500 years, went (or sometimes were put) thinking to attain holiness and divinity. I had thought that the main problem with monastic and Roman beliefs was that church fathers, tradition, and man’s wisdom are given credence above the Bible. Now I find that not only what I thought was true, is, but a twisted, torqued, convoluted way of reading scripture and prayer is taught and practiced. These very same practices are now in the emergent church.
God’s Word tells us that Jesus came to give light and life and free us from sin and bondage—there are NOT special disciplines, practices or ways to get to God or to get closer to God. Christ Jesus is our sanctification.
I am going to discuss lectio divina, centering prayer, and then in 8C, I will discuss several Benedictine or Trappist monks who have had tremendous effect on the new spirituality that has become such a part of what is called the emergent church. Notice the major Eastern religion influence. Notice too, what is said about these false practices—they are NOT based on what the Bible says.
I have not gone into great depths explaining these false beliefs as I am not interested in learning about the ways of darkness. At the end of 8C is a quote from a Benedictine Convent in Tucson, AZ, then a list of US Benedictine, Cistercian, and Trappist monasteries and convents, and lastly a list of Benedictine schools in the US, followed by some Bible verses.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”—Romans 1:16
“Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:”—Ezekiel 13:22
“And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.”—Romans 5:16
“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”—Romans 5:18
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”
—1 Corinthians 1:30
The practice of Lectio Divina has been used since the desert fathers and became part of the monastic rules for Benedictines when Benedict set aside the best part of the day for the brothers to practice Lectio, which the Benedictine monks are still expected to do.
The Latin “Lectio Divina” is translated divine or spiritual reading. (Sometimes, falsely called praying the scriptures.) The proponents of Lectio Divina claim it is a scriptural reading which creates communion with God, and promises special spiritual insights.
By 1150, Lectio Divina consisted of four steps thanks to Guigo II, a Carthusian monk, who set up the theory of the four rungs:
Lectio—Read the passage slowly several times.
Meditatio—Reflect on the text of the passage.
Oratio—Respond to the passage by opening the heart to God.
Contemplatio—Listen to God…freeing oneself from one’s own thoughts.
Apparently, before starting the Lectio Divina practice, it is important to select the right time, place, and to be prepared for these four rungs of reading God’s Word that apparently the Lord Jesus forgot to tell us about. I have been on monastic sites that tell you step by step how to do Lectio Divina, and I must admit, it sounds spiritual and harmless, but it is NOT.
In September 2005, Pope Benedict XVI stated:
I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church—I am convinced of it—a new spiritual springtime.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”—1 Timothy 4:1
“And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God.”
“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”—1 Corinthians 2:5
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
“I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.”
Centering prayer is a popular method of contemplative prayer, placing a strong emphasis on interior silence and can be traced to the contemplative prayer of the Desert Fathers of early Christian monasticism, to the Lectio Divina tradition of Benedictine monasticism, and to works like “The Cloud of Unknowing” and the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.
The actual practice of centering prayer, to clear the mind of rational thought in order to focus on the indwelling presence of God, is not entirely alien to Catholics, who are advised to meditate in some form daily—usually on the rosary or on the more structured practice of lectio divina. The “Centering Prayer” movement can be traced to the 1970s and three Trappist monks, William Meninger, M. Basil Pennington, and Thomas Keating of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Some Quotes on Centering Prayer and Contemplative Prayer
The purpose of Contemplative Outreach is to support one another in the process of Divine transformation through the practice of Centering Prayer.
“Centering Prayer is a method of prayer, which prepares us to receive the gift of God’s presence, traditionally called contemplative prayer. It consists of responding to the Spirit of Christ by consenting to God’s presence and action within.”
“Christian Contemplative Prayer is the opening of mind and heart—our whole being—to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words and emotions, whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, thinking, feeling and choosing; even closer than consciousness itself. The root of all prayer is interior silence. Though we think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words, this is only one expression. Contemplative Prayer is a prayer of silence, an experience of God’s presence as the ground in which our being is rooted, the Source from whom our life emerges at every moment.
“For the Church’s first sixteen centuries Contemplative Prayer was the goal of Christian spirituality. After the Reformation, this living tradition was virtually lost. Today, with cross-cultural dialogue and historical research, the recovery of the Christian contemplative heritage has begun. The method of Centering Prayer, in the tradition of Lectio Divina (praying the scriptures) is contributing to this renewal.” http://www.centeringprayer.com/cntrgpryr.htm
Quotes from Thomas Keatings’ Open Mind, Open Heart
Centering prayer is a method of refining one’s intuitive faculties so that one can enter more easily into contemplative prayer. It is not the only path to contemplation, but it is a good one. As a method, it is a kind of extract of monastic spirituality . . . you have to keep up a certain level of silence in the psyche and nervous system if you want to obtain the benefits of contemplative prayer. (Page 34)
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”—Philippians 4:6
“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”—Matthew 15:9
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things
ye have need of, before ye ask him.
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”