Tag Archives: Lectio Divina

Palm Sunday Email for the Apophatic-Cataphatic Exploration

This is from the Palm Sunday Email on the Lenten  email exploration of the Cataphatic-Apophatic.  If you would like to receive the last couple emails in this series, email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com

Palm Sunday is celebrated one week before Easter.  It is a commemoration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
Today’s spiritual exercise combines elements of Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading) and visualization.  This is a very cataphatic practice, dependent, as it is, on the words.
This practice begins with a reading of the entry in each of the four gospels.  It is rather lengthy and cumulative in nature.  I invite you to go as far and deep as you desire.  Particularly if you are going to return to this practice daily (the next email will arrive Wednesday) you might wish to stop at some point along the way each day, and go a bit further each day you return to it.

The Exercise:

  1. Find a comfortable space.  Inhale.  Exhale.
    2.   Read Mathew 21: 1-11.  The NIV translation is below.  If you prefer a different translation, by all means use that one.  As you read this first account, simply read for an over-arching understanding.

They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]

“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

  1. Take another deep breath.  Read the second account: Mark 11: 1-11.  This time, try and furnish the details of what it might have looked like.  Take a moment to create this image in your mind and really see the colors and surroundings. 

When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts.

4.  As you read the following passage from Luke, 19: 28-44  do your best to hear the sounds.  Imagine the tone, volume, and timbre of the voices as they say these things.  Place other sounds in the scene.  Try and add this to the picture you formed from the last reading.   It is not important that your imagining is historically accurate.

They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:


“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.

  1. Take a deep breath in and out.    As you read the following account (which comes from John 12:12-19) place yourself somewhere within the scene.   Furnish sensations of smell, touch and taste:  Imagine the temperature, the texture of your clothes on your skin.  Consider the scents that might be in the air or the residue of flavors left on your tongue in such a scene.
    The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[e]

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:


“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;

   see, your king is coming,

   seated on a donkey’s colt.”[f]

16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign,went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

  1. Breathe again, deeply.
    7.  Ask God if there is anything you should be noticing from these accounts.
    8.  Re-read one or more of them.  Spend some time with God on what you might be meant to learn, here.
    9.  Take another breath.
    10.  Now, see a second layer to this whole passage.  View the donkey as a symbol of the disciplines and practices you use to get closer to God.  (Disciplines and practices can be formal, like this exercise.  Or informal, like the act of loving the people around you.)  See the city of Jerusalem as a symbol of your heart: this is also a place Jesus makes a triumphant entry into.  All those laying down their cloaks and palm fronds, and cheering are the people who have had a role in shaping who you are and where you are today.  Re-envision this, either in your imagaination or by re-reading this account.  But replace the faces of the crowd with the people who have loved and supported you; see that donkey as all the things you do to get closer to God; see the city of Jerusalem as a stand-in for you.  Replay this scene in your imagination, with the senses fully engaged.  Or re-read one of the accounts.
    11.  After Jesus’ entry into the city, spend some time in quiet communion.


    ______________________________________________________________________________________You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

    • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
    • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
    • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
    • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

Exercise 42: Another Approach to Lectio

Background:   Lectio Divina is clearly more than just a single practice.  In some ways, it is more like a philosophy, a general approach that seeks to invite God into our reading.

The Practice:  

  1.  Select a short passage to be read.
  2. As you read, be aware of the words and phrase that stand out.
  3. Read a second time.  When you are through, reflect on the things that impact you.  Consider expressing these reflections out loud or in writing.
  4.  Read it a third time.  This time say a prayer when your are through.  Focus this prayer on what this experience was like for you, and what it is challenging you to do in your life.
  5. Read it a fourth time.
  6. Sit in silence.

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

Day 6/7:Lectio I

Sorry for the confusing title above.

It seems that I have a little trouble with advanced math skills like counting.  I had listed 2 days in a row as day 5.  Therefore, the first Lectio Divina practice is actually day 7.  However, it is listed on the emails as day 6.  Sorry about that!

Here is the message from Lectio:


I hope you can bear with me.  This is going to seem like a lot.  It really isn’t though.  This could be the best practice yet.  
There are a category of Spiritual Exercises around reading and writing.  One of the most well known is Lectio Divina.  We will look at a few different forms of Lectio, over the next three days.  One way to approach Lectio is described in the next section.  A natural question, when we think about reading practice is “OK.  Just what am I going to be reading?”  Traditionally, this practice would be applied to the Christian Bible.  There are exciting applications outside of the bible, too, though.
I have curated a list of readings in 4 categories.  Each category has 3 readings.  Therefore, you could stay inside “New Testament Bible Readings” for all 3 days.  You could even keep at the same reading all 3 days; my sense is that you would get something new each day.  However, I hope that you will push yourself out of your comfort zone and try a few different categories.  
To be clear: This list that follows will appear on each of the next 3 days, though the background remarks before it will vary.  Before you begin today’s exercise, you should choose which selection you are going to go with today.  You won”t need to read it in detail yet.  For now, it’s enough that you have chosen one.
One thing to consider, as you decide which reading to choose is how clear the theme of ‘Thanksgiving’ is in the reading.  I chose these reading specifically because they do have a connection with the topic.  However, how direct and obvious that connection is will vary.  The 3rd category– Modern Poems– is probably the most subtle connection to the topic of thanksgiving.

Category 1: Hebrew Scriptures (AKA Old Testament) 

1 Chronicles 16

Psalm 100


Genesis 2

Category 2: New Testament
1 Thessalonions 5

Luke 1

Luke 22

Category 3: Some contemporary Poets
The Copper Beech by Maria Howe

The Lanyard by Billy Collins


The Summer Day by Mary Oliver


Category 4: Mostly Secular Prose on Thankfulness

Ted Talk on Thankfulness

(Note: This link should bring you to both the streaming video and the transcript.  You might watch the video once, for the initial run through,  After this, it is strongly recomended that you focus on the written transcript.)

Brene Brown on thankfulness:

9 ways to cultivate thankfulness:


Today’s Exercise:
1. Take a dew deep breaths: in through the nose, out through the mouth.  Try and fill the lungs thoroughly on the inhale.  Try and empty them completely on the exhale.
2. Consider the idea of thankfulness.  If prayer is meaningful, say a little prayer that God might speak to you about thankfulness through the passage you are about to read.  If praying is not your thing, state your intention to learn something new through the reading.
3.  Read the passage all the way through.  Be aware of sections that seem extra meaningful to you, phrases or sentences which trigger an emotional reaction or seem to be something new.
4.  If you get to the end of the passage and nothing jumps out at you, read it again, continuing to look for something impactful,
5.  If something did jump out at you, spend some time focusing on that phrase.  Turn it into a breath prayer, as we did the first few days of this campaign.  Assign the first half of the phrase to your exhale.  Assign the second half of the phrase to your inhale.
6.  Now, meditate on this phrase: the first half with you exhale, the second half with your inhale. Let this take a significant portion (perhaps half) of the total time you had set aside for your practice today.
7.  When you are ready, release these words.  Take a few cleansing breaths.
8.  Consider if you have learned or experienced anything new about gratitude through today’s practice.