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Sacred Reading

The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina

by Michael Casey

This work offers a bold and engaging examination of the Western tradition of lectio divin, the contemplative approach to sacred writings, notably the Bible and the Spiritual classics. Liguori Publications, softcover, 151 pages.

Michael Casey, prior of the Cistercian abbey of Tarrawarra in Victoria, Australia, places the practice of lectio divina near the heart of the Benedictine tradition. Although this is not a "cookbook," it is a practical guide as well as a theological and historical introduction. For Casey, lectio divina is a spiritual discipline with particular relevance to an age marked by individualism and resistance to discipline. Readers will find his application of traditional imagery of a spiral journey into the depths of Scripture particularly illuminating as a guide to reading sacred texts. That a spiral journey is marked by repetition leads Casey to remark that "there is a kind of monotony that is not boredom but paves the way to a more profound experience." This is reminiscent of advice from Zen tradition: if you find something boring after a minute, do it for two; if you find it boring after two minutes, do it for four. "Enlightenment," Casey writes, "comes not by increasing the level of excitement, but by moving more deeply into calm." Readers will find this book a most helpful companion in making that move.
Steve Schroeder