SP2527 Spiritual Life and Leadership
Participants, Lectio, 2007
This class will introduce an ancient form of Biblical prayer, Lectio Divina, and its theological foundations. We will deepen the practice over the first part of the semester in a small group setting, and then introduce several variations to the basic practice: visual texts (icons and religious art), nature, and daily life. All participants will lead the process one time during the semester. They will also employ the spiritual discipline called spiritual reading for the required reading, and write two brief reflection papers employing and reflecting on the lectio dynamic. Learning strategies: Reading, lecture, small group practice, reflection papers. Preference given to SFTS ministry students. SFTS spirituality concentration requirement.
Place: Geneva 100, San Anselmo
Magrassi, Mariano. Praying the Bible: An Introduction to Lectio Divina. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1998.
Lesniak, Valerie, “The Courage to Gaze: Engaging and Receiving a Religious Work of Art,” Seattle Theology and Ministry Review 1, no.1 (2001): 68-72. (posted on Blackboard)
Peterson, Eugene, Eat This Book: A Conversation on the Art of Spiritual Reading. Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2006, Chapters 6 and 7. (posted on Blackboard)
Schneiders, Sandra. “Biblical Spirituality,” Interpretation 56 (2) (2004): 133-142. (posted on Blackboard)
Vest, Norvene. Gathered in the Word: Praying the Scripture in Small Groups. Nashville: Upper Room, 1996.
1. Attend regularly; participate in small group process as participant and leader (one time).
Demonstrated through the weekly participation and practice in small groups and the second reflection paper.
2. Students gain skill in the practice of Lectio Divina
Demonstrated through regular practice, offering formal leadership and through the second reflection paper.
3. Students can discuss the general contours of the history and theology of Lectio Divina
Demonstrated through the first and second reflection papers.
4. Students can demonstrate an awareness of the communal nature of spiritual formation
Demonstrated through small-group debriefing, the scenario-constructing exercise and second reflection paper.
5. Students can imagine other appropriate applications of Lectio Divina
Demonstrated through completing brainstorming and scenario-constructing exercises.
6. Students can use Lectio Divina effectively along with other forms of biblical interpretation
Demonstrated by: using Lectio Divina as part of sermon preparation, second reflection paper.
Pass/fail only. Timely and regular presence is essential. To receive credit, participants are expected to be on time for class, and no more than two excused (and no unexcused absences) may be incurred. These requirements exist for two reasons: skills cannot be learned without practice—the content is the process—and groups cannot reach their necessary depth without stable membership. If it is necessary to seek an excused absence, please contact either Beth Liebert or your small group leader before the session that you will have to miss.
Process for Reflective (Spiritual) Reading
Spiritual Reading naturally “bleeds into” Lectio Divina, as it did in the patristic and monastic periods when Lectio Divina was developing. Using a process such as that suggested below not only allows you to practice the spiritual practice of Spiritual Reading while you are doing your assigned reading, it makes a uniquely integrated and harmonious setting for Lectio to develop. Note that it is much easier to do spiritual reading with some kinds of texts than others.
Allot about ½ hour per session, if possible at a time and place in which you will not be disturbed. You might choose a place that you associate with prayer, rather than with study. Begin each session by consciously centering yourself and letting go of the events of the day. Notice that the reading that you are about to do will engage different aspects of your person than the way you usually read assignments.
Pick up and read slowly, ruminating as you go. When you reach a place that captures your attention, stop and explore it. Write down significant movements, insights, struggles. Proceed slowly and thoughtfully, spending the allotted time reading, pondering, writing. Do not take more than one chapter at each sitting. You may not finish a chapter in a single sitting; if this be the case, simply begin where you left off at your next sitting. At the conclusion of the allotted time, write down any noticings and questions about the content or the process that you would like answered. (These can inform your reflection papers, if you like).
Probable Content Outline
September 5: Introduction of participants. Overview of Spirituality Concentration and to this semester’s topic. How to read the books for this course (spiritual reading and journaling); reporting on the reading; lectio divina as a personal prayer form.
September 12: Reading Scripture devotionally; small group introductions and covenanting; discuss readings in the small group.
September 19: Lectio divina with a biblical text (done in plenary session with debrief). Small group: discuss readings, select leaders for the next several weeks
September 26: Lectio divina with a biblical text (in small group)
October 3: Lectio divina with a biblical text (in small group)
October 10: Lectio with a biblical text (in small group)
October 17: Lectio with visual text (icon-gazing prayer) in plenary session; first paper due in duplicate.
October 24: Fall Reading Week (no class)
October 31: Lectio with a visual text (in small group)
November 7: Lectio with art as text
November 14: Lectio with nature as sacred text
November 21: Lectio on life as described in Vest, Ch. 5, pp. 97-98.
November 28: Semester record keeping (plenary) Lectio on life (newspaper—in small groups); Hand in second reflection paper.
December 5: Semester evaluation. Applications to ministry settings. Large and small group closure.