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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Lectio Divina -The Sacred Art
Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer
Christine Valters Paintner
SkyLight Paths 08/11 Paperback $16.99
Christine Valters Paintner is a writer, teacher, a Benedictine oblate, and the online Abbess of www.abbeyofthearts.com, a virtual monastery dedicated to nurturing contemplative practice and creative expression. She frequently leads retreats and teaches on the wisdom of Benedictine, Celtic, and desert ways of praying. Paintner is the author of Water, Wind, Earth, and Fire: The Christian Primer of Praying with the Elements and The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom. In this paperback, her focus is on the encounters with God that can take place with the spiritual practice of lectio divina, which means "divine reading." Paintner states: "[It] is not an analytic or a linear practice, but a practice of the heart that brings integration and meaning to our lives."
In her assessment of the spiritual foundations of lectio divina, the author covers the ways other religions handle sacred reading; the importance of heart-centered prayer; the Benedictine values of stability, obedience, and conversion as aids to contemplative prayer; the four movements of lectio divina (settling and shimmering, savoring and stirring, summoning and serving, slowing and stilling); an invitation to expand this practice beyond scriptural texts to a reading of the world; the options of praying with our eyes or through the magnificence of music; nature as a sacred text; and our own lives as providing a rich treasure trove of sacred stories.
Paintner offers us many pathways into lectio divina which she believes will arouse our inner monk who yearns to explore the spiritual meanings within everyday life. This practice takes plenty of mindfulness, and as St. Benedict says in his rule: "Always we begin again." It is easy to drift away from our practices of sacred reading and then we must return with whole hearts aglow with hope and perseverance.
Paintner makes an excellent guide through the foundational spiritual practice of lectio divina.
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