Part IV of a IV Part Series
by Jim Batson
Pray for Awareness, Look for Clues
Like I mentioned earlier, the Holy Spirit blesses me with awareness throughout my day and week. You might say that I am a bit of a pirate when it comes to this as thoughts and ideas from seemingly common conversations may be used in deeper reflection later, especially when these things point back to scripture. During Lent, a handful of scriptural references kept coming up and repeating themselves. It was time for Adoration where Lectio Divina might bless me with further understanding and direction. During Adoration I strictly follow the Lectio Divina steps Fr. Paul and Fr. Jamin introduced. I even bought a book to get it right.
It was Friday. I had fasted and was tired at the end of the day and the end of a long week. Not a whole lot was expected. Honestly, as I entered St. Margaret and having had a couple of wonderful spiritual Lectio Divina experiences in previous weeks, I had prepared for a Lectio Divina fail. “Just get through it,” I thought. “Check the box and mail this one in,” I said to myself. “It’s almost shrimp po’boy time!” Little did I know, the Holy Spirit had other ideas!
The following example brought on this Friday in Lent, originated from a previous penance given to me that kept repeating in daily life. I decided to bring it to Adoration in Lectio Divina and begin with Psalm 141. I had prepared to jump from Psalm 141 to James 3 in an attempt to make a deeper connection. After reading slowly and with intense concentration, meditating, reading, and praying about the words before a period of contemplation, I was trying to link the two passages when things went dry. After surrendering to the dryness and looking for something else, I turned to Matthew’s Gospel and began slowly thumbing through from the beginning. My thoughts had left Psalm 141 and James 3, and I was reflecting on each chapter title in Matthew as I thumbed. Without any warning Matthew 15:10 jumped off the page, and I stopped. To this day I have no explanation for why I went to the Gospel of Matthew. During a second round of reading, meditating, reading, praying, and contemplation, I was hit with a clarity and knowing connecting all three passages which completely rearranged my approach from that moment on. This session lasted a little over an hour, and when I came out of it, I was energized and no longer hungry! I had forgotten about the shrimp po’boy! I meditated further, experiencing the joy of understanding, and later captured the experience next to the three different verses in my Bible. So as not to spoil this bit of scripture for you, I will stop short of describing my joy and life’s redirection. After all, God meets us where we are, and we all are in different places. Your outcome might be different. Nevertheless, I remain grateful for these graces and this opportunity to share my Fridays of Lent.
While I don’t hear God’s voice or a trumpet blast or even a “still small voice,” I do feel the Holy Spirit’s presence that comes to me in a “flash” of realization and understanding. Sometimes I experience physical sensations that I do not understand but have read about from the saints. Realizations or understandings that come are not in word form and do not seem to take place over time. They are sudden and immediate and cover their meaning faster than a thought or voice could convey. I use the word “flash” because of its immediate apparent understanding and realization. I have also heard this described as the Holy Spirit “Shining on your Mind or Heart.” “Flash” describes it best for me because of its nature. I am typically a little fatigued when done and at the same time excited for the fact that God let me climb a few rungs of Jacob’s ladder! Sometimes I think or say to myself while this happens, “There it is,” as I now recognize such encounters. I immediately thank God for His grace.
Tip of the Day
Be aware of repeated events that take you back to the same pieces or areas or themes of scripture. Be particularly aware after a sacrament, especially reconciliation or your penance (there is a connection). Consider writing down what you experience and intend to cover. Such preparation may take days or weeks. A small Post-It note in my Bible works for me. If new to you, write down the Lectio Divina steps on the same Post-It note. A little preparation relieves you of having to remember when you could be reading, meditating, and contemplating. Take your favorite Bible and pen or pencil to Adoration. Be sure to clear your mind. (Let the world sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.) Turn off your phone and begin by bringing to mind where you are and who you are with. Ask for His help! Ask Him to “Hasten to You!” Maybe ask a saint or two, guardian angel, or the archangels for help to show you God’s grace and message. BEGIN! If at any moment you realize that you are distracted then stop, regroup, and begin again. Blocking out the world is hard and takes prayer and practice.
Write down, as soon as possible after experiencing joy, thoughts or feelings that may flash into awareness. Underline words and patterns of words as you become aware. You may experience clarity, images, understanding, or knowing about words or phrases within your reflection. I like to jot notes next to the Bible verses. If the Holy Spirit connects different pieces of scripture in the Old and New Testament for you, be sure to jot down the typology next to these verses.
What Just Happened?
The Holy Spirit has revealed new things to you in this very intimate and spiritual way. You just had a dialogue with God! By capturing your experience next to His holy word, you possess it forever and can revisit His message to you and for you the rest of your life. Consider sharing with those closest to you.
I Love Our Faith!
Special thanks to Lynn Garro for editing our IV part series on Lectio Divina with Fr. Paul Gros & Jim Batson