Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hearing and Receiving God's Word

All Carmelites are to greatly esteem the Sacred Scriptures. They are an important part of their day. Prayers are recited from the Breviary which consists of Psalms and Scripture readings from both the Old and New Testament. These are prayed rooted in the tradition of lectio divina (literally, "divine reading"), which is a particular way of reading and praying over the Scriptures.

The heart of the Carmelite Rule of St. Albert is that "each one of you is to stay in his own cell or nearby, pondering the Law of the Lord (i.e. Scripture) day and night and keeping watch at his prayers unless attending to some other duty" (Rule no. 8)

However, our prayer life can become routine and performed more out of duty than of love. In The Imitation of Christ, a book well known and loved by St. Therese of Lisieux, the author tells us how we should hear the scriptures (the Word of God) and what our disposition should be in order to receive them.

"My words are spirit and life - John 6:69, and not to estimated by the sense of man. They are not intended to gratify a vain self complacency, but are to be heard in silence and received with all humility and great affection." (Imitation of Christ- Bk III ch 3 ~ by Thomas a Kempis)

They should be heard in silence. Exterior silence, of course, which is why the Carmelite is to stay in his cell, unless duty calls. But once alone and all is quiet the soul will need to approach the Scriptures in interior silence as well in order to hear the divine voice. All those extraneous thoughts and concerns must be calmed in the soul.

The Scriptures must be received in all humility, remembering who we are and who God is. The humble soul knows that it is in need of instruction, knows it is nothing and is open to what is being asked.

The Words of God should be received with great affection, reverenced and loved whenever they are read or heard. Fostering this attitude will aide the soul at prayer.


  1. The Imitation of Christ is a great book. And St Therese is a great saint. Thank you for your post. The Lord truly speaks to our hearts through scripture. May His Word dwell richly within us!

  2. I love the complete peace I receive when I am able to read the Holy Scriptures in silence. The Psalms are especially calming to me.
    Thank you, Rebecca.

  3. Nice to know there are others out there that have an affection for the Word of God. It does fill the soul with peace.