For centuries, most of the people of God did not have their own copy of the Scriptures. The Word of God was listened to, sung, prayed, and memorized, rather than read. After the invention of the printing press, lay people began to acquire their own copies of the Bible. For the most part, however, God's people over time have been informed and formed by their prayerful, attentive listening to the spoken and sung Word of God. This practice of prayerful listening is called Lectio Divina -- literally, a sacred or divine reading.
Ignatian Contemplation is another method of listening to the Scriptures. In Ignatian Contemplation, we employ our imagination and our senses to enter into the text before us. It is similar to Lectio and we often use this method of connecting with God's Word in our JourneyMates gatherings. Ignatius of Loyola developed this particular practice of listening to the Scriptures over 500 years ago. It is a way of being with God, of listening for God, that works well throughout the Scriptures, but is particularly fruitful as we encounter narrative passages in the Old and New Testament.
Examen of Conscience
Examen of Conscience is also a gift to God's people from Ignatius of Loyola, the 16th-century monk who founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Ignatius believed that God gave him this method of reflecting on times in his life as a way of discerning God's presence, and as a way of discerning the way God was calling him to love and serve the world. In our own lives, Examen is a most helpful practice. It slows us down to pay attention to the life we have been living. As we grow in discerning God's presence, we begin to sense what draws us toward living a life of following Jesus and how to identify that which deadens our hearts and draws us away from God.