What is the essence of Lectio Divina? It was said of Moses that "the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." The Lord used to speak to Moses. The Lord speaks. Moses listens. Lectio Divina is not at all about reading a text: it is, rather a question of allowing the Lord to speak, and of receiving the Word of the Lord in a spirit of adoration and awe, in silence. The word that rises slowly in the silence of our hearts is always a word of response to the Word. Lectio divina is not about much reading, nor is it about much speaking. It is an experience of the divine intimacy. It is the nearness of a God who reveals himself to his creature by means of the words He utters. The words addressed to us by God are an outpouring of divine life, of light, and love, into the soul.
The text from Exodus adds that the Lord used to speak to Moses "face to face, as a man speak to his friend." In lectio divina the face of the Lord, shining with the glory of the Father, is revealed to us. Saint Paul says that "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" is given us " in the face of Christ. In lectio divina the face of Christ comes close, very close to our face. This face-to-face encounter is transforming. One cannot practice lectio divina, day after day, year after year, without a slow but certain transformation of the face of the soul taking place.
Lectio divina is a relationship of face-to-face intimacy that faith alone makes possible. And this face to face intimacy is transforming. "We all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another." Moses dared to pray: "I pray thee, show me thy glory." This desire to see the glory of God is itself God's gift. In lectio divina the prayer of Moses is wondrously fulfilled in Christ. "I pray thee, show me thy glory." The Father's replies, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." This is the secret of lectio divina: if we would contemplate the glory of the Lord, we have to listen to the Father's son, the beloved, the Bridegroom of the Church.
©Dom Marc-Daniel Kirby, O.Cist.