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Book Review: Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina by Thelma Hall

by Peter Menkin  
1/18/2009 / Book Reviews

An intimate book with prayer and lectio divina as goal

For some time now I have owned the title, "Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina" by Thelma Hall. I have used it for prayer, and I have used it for lectio. The hallmark use I have put the book to is its selections of scripture readings for prayer. This is not to say that the purpose of the book, lectio divina and its prayer form, its reading form of the scriptures is to be ignored. No, the author's writings regarding this method of intimacy with scriptures is worth the time to read.

A comfortable book, and by that I mean it is an inviting read, one can enter into the monastic method of prayer. Here, in the introduction, the author calls lectio an entry way to contemplation. It is "...generally accepted that contemplation was an extrordinary grace..." but here the intent is to open lectio and also contemplation to Christians as part of their spiritual life.

If I may interpret a little bit, the writer says that with this people can enter more loving relationships with others, and with God. A means to accomplishing this is through lectio divina. She says, "...we grow in love of God as we grow in any intimate love relationship..." A prerequisite is to trust God and know he is faithful to us. The practice of lectio divina is fourfold, and I have learned this method a number of times from others and Thelma Hall is right on the money as I know it. In fact, one may rely on her for this kind of prayer and relationship in prayer with God. The book has an integrity to it.

Though not specifically a how-to book, this is a mini-retreat and not so long of one in text form. The text part, not counting the scripture readings, is only 55 pages. Most people will find their way through that and find it fruitful.

The four parts to lectio: Read the word of God; reflect on the word; where the word touches the heart, or meditation on the word; and, contemplating the word of God. Through this we may come through the night to a new dawn. Or as I read it, we may leave behind some of our darker side and come to a lighter side of inspiration with scripture, and illuminated so gain a special relationship with God. This is reachable, to some degree, by most people who are so willing to be devotional.

To stretch the idea more, as an invitation, the writer says this is what to do:

"--To receive, and place no obstacle to the Holy Spirit.
"--Follow attraction to interior silence and remain in loving attentiveness.
"---Abandon all activity and let oneself be drawn into the darkness of God's love, forgetful of self.
"--When it becomes possible to meditate again, do so, until and unless interior silence becomes habitual."

The book is a traditional teaching, and Thelma Hall, a retreat leader is a religious (member of the Religious of Cenacle) in Bedford Village, New York. A book recommended to me by monks of New Camaldoli in Big Sur, the book is recommended by others interested in similar spirituality. The publisher is Paulist Press, a Catholic Church publishing house. I think anyone interested in expanding their horizons of prayer life and entering more fully into scripture will find this an interesting and worthwhile book that leads to a more fruitful life of the spirit.

--Peter Menkin, Mill Valley, CA USA

Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA where he writes poetry. He is an Oblate of Immaculate Heart Hermitage, Big Sur, CA and that means he is a Camaldoli Benedictine. He is 64 years of age as of 2010.

Copyright Peter Menkin

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