Continuation of "Lectio and Vocation".
a) Lectio permits us to walk this road
In lectio Christ comes first and I second. He speaks and I listen. The danger exists that Lectio, instead of being a time for listening, becomes a moment of decision making for me, where I appropriate the Word for myself. When I do this, I take the place of Christ, and I am no longer listening. For this reason the Holy Spirit helps me to listen, to adjust my relationship with Christ by ceding to him.
There is also a risk of calling oneself, of deciding by oneself the meaning of the Word of the day. But the movement of listening is just the opposite: He begins to speak. The invocation of the Holy Spirit puts us in our right place.
By daily listening to Christ, who calls us to follow him, we find the steps we need to take. And so we walk in Christ’s footsteps.
b) Practicing lectio implies a commitment
Lectio also supposes that one is committed to Christ. The exercise of Lectio is particularly demanding, and it is difficult to listen as long as one is not fully devoted in one’s heart to searching for the truth and to meeting Christ.
|St Matthew's Call, Caravaggio, Rome|
Lectio and accompanying vocations
Evidently, in order to make a good discernment of a vocation it is necessary to listen to the Lord every day. It is not possible to say that one has a vocation if one does not practise Lectio. That would be tempting the Lord (1). Each person who is called or who wishes to discern, according to his or her possibilities, should practice Lectio. Nevertheless, it is evident that if the Lord calls, or seems to call, (and he calls everyone to follow him), it is not normal to allow only a few possibilities for him to speak to us. Tempting the Lord manifests a lack of wisdom. If one continues to be engrossed in a thousand different things and states: ‘The Lord is calling me; if he does this, he knows what he is doing and he will be able to direct me in another way if he wishes’. But no, the Lord expects us to choose with our will and our intellect. Without us he cannot and will not act. If he does so as an exception he does so in mercy; but normally we come to see that we are inverting the values, and that as a consequence we need to change the rhythm of our lives, even if it comes at a price. Of course, it is good to talk with a priest or an experienced guide. But sooner or later our life needs to progress toward the recognition that lectio needs to be done on a daily basis.
Many people are called and many end up by loosing their call. This does not mean that the Lord has stopped calling them (the Lord does not take back his gifts), but we have regressed to the point of losing what we had gained. A call is like a small seed that must become a big tree. If the seed is not watered, nourished and taken care of, it cannot reach maturity. When the first storm or temptation comes, or another voice, it gives way. People trample on it and the call seems to be definitively lost. Now, Lectio allows the seed to grow, protecting it like a guard tower against everything and everyone. The humble person, who practices Lectio everyday, has incredible strength; he or she is able to confront all the contradictions through the grace coming from the daily encounter with Christ who speaks, consoles and securely guides him or her.
Sometimes people think that a retreat for discernment is sufficient. But before or after the retreat they neglect to be faithful to daily Lectio. If we have discerned that the Lord is calling us and suppose that we have been “put on the right track”, that “all will go well”, we are fooling ourselves, because we have to live faithfully every day!
When mediation blurs
Sometimes certain people do not really discover their vocation: they are oriented; they receive counselling and are directed; but, although they “advance”, they are still distant from Christ. Mediations, instead of being transparent to Christ, they become opaque. The vivifying encounter with Christ does not occur “freely”, and this happens because people do not listen to the Call directly. Now, Lectio puts us into direct contact with Christ. He is the vocation of each baptised Christian; he gives strength and energy; he seduces and draws; he convinces and commits. All mediation serves this relationship, and ought to promote it. But when the mediation is self-interested - often unconsciously - when spiritual direction becomes a projection onto the person being accompanied, a screen is erected which breaks the relationship instead of furthering it. In this case, lectio itself may be compromised.
(1): When the devil tempted the Lord in the desert “he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the Temple, and said to him, `If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down from here, for it has been written: ‘To His messengers He will give charge concerning you, to watch over you,’ and: ‘On hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.’” But Jesus replied: “‘It has been said, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”(Lk 4:9-12). Progressing in one’s vocation without the support of lectio is like throwing oneself down from the pinnacle of the Temple and saying: “The angels of the Lord will save me, since I am God’s child!” It is impossible to advance in one’s vocation without the substantial help of lectio; this would simply be “tempting God”.
Note 1: This is an extract from the book: "Lectio divina in daily life" (please click here)
Note 2: To know more about Lectio Divina see: A keynote on Lectio Divina
Note 3: Please remember to subscribe to this Blog so you can receive the posts directly to your email.