Advent is coming soon! This means a new liturgical year, Year B, begins on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2005. Bryan Cones has compiled a prayer book, Daily Prayer 2006, that can be of great help to those interested in a prayer aid that connects with the liturgical calendar. Pope Benedict XVI on November 6, 2005 encouraged all Christians to use the ancient prayer method called lectio divina; the Benedictines and others have been using and teaching this method for centuries. Pope Benedict reminds us that Doctor of the Church and Church Father St. Augustine as well as many of his contemporaries and predecessors used this method.
Lectio divina is easy to use, but finding or making time for it is the hard part. The method goes like this: Find a scripture passage or a reading from the Church Fathers or from a saint one can use the readings assigned to Mass or begin with Genesis or some other Scripture. Read a passage out loud or silently, then go back over it again slowly. Then if a particular word or a phrase stands out to you, ruminate on that for a while and pray if you decide to at that point. Then, and this is the special part, you might experience a contemplative moment or two. If this does happen and it ends, or if nothing happens you can ruminate over the passage again or begin a new passage. The hard part is making time for this prayer because it usually should be done at the same time each day, varying in duration from ten minutes to an hour. The method also suggests that you pray in the same place each time. Patience is also important.
The Mass readings can be used, but other books, like Daily Prayer 2006, are also helpful. Cones uses the liturgical calendar to frame his book. At the head of the page are the date and the liturgical day, for example, July 11, 2006 which is the Memorial of St. Benedict. Then he provides an invitatory antiphon and a psalm to help orient you to prayer. Then he provides a scripture passage from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Then he provides short reflections from various sources, and intercessory prayers and the invitatory antiphon is used to conclude with. This is all on one page which makes it very compact and user friendly.
Bryan Cones learned about lectio divina from the Benedictine monks of Conception Abbey in Missouri. He has a master’s degree in theology from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and writes on topics touching Roman Catholic liturgy and theology. This book is his fifth Daily Prayer book and he is presently working on the 2007 edition. He is providing a great service to the Church.
Daily Prayer 2006 is recommended to those looking for an aid in their prayer life that connects with the liturgical calendar. Pope Benedict, I think, would be happy with this book.
(Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., writes from St. Gregory’s University, Shawnee, Oklahoma.)