Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Sisters of the Holy Names Offer Lenten “Lectio Divina”

Story and photo by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the Feb. 25, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

Holy Names Sisters Betty McLellan and Mary Ann Herres. (IR photo)

SNJM Sabbath Space is a well-kept secret. Nestled into a cozy neighborhood on Spokane’s near north side, at 4324 N. Jefferson St., for several years now SNJM Sabbath Space – often shortened to just “Sabbath Space” – has been a quiet, daytime urban retreat or meeting facility for individuals or groups.

Staffed by Holy Names Sisters Betty McLellan, Janyce Bouta, and Mary Ann Herres, the former convent, across the street from St. Francis of Assisi Parish, includes a chapel, meeting rooms, and private rooms for guests to use. (At this time, Sabbath Space does not offer overnight accommodations.)

For the fifth consecutive year, on each of the Sundays during Lent, the Sisters will lead a group Lectio Divina meditation based on the Gospel reading for that day. The term “lectio divina” is Latin for “divine reading” or “holy reading.” It’s a prayer method with origins in the early centuries of the church, most likely in Benedictine monasteries. Essentially, Lectio Divina is prayer based on a quiet, reflective reading of Scripture.

Each two-hour session begins “by reading aloud the Gospel for that Sunday, slowly and reflectively,” Sister Mary Ann said, “then we have the participants go off by themselves to reflect on what was read so the Word is allowed to open within us. Then we re-group and read the Gospel aloud again, and then again we go off alone to contemplate what we have heard. Then at the end we gather again, and if anyone wants to share their insights, the ‘fruits’ of contemplation, they are free to do that if they want to. Then we have a closing prayer.”

“There isn’t a lot of oral prayer,” said Sister Betty. “It’s the Word, contemplation, the Word, further contemplation, and then, hopefully, some action on the part of the individual, either in the spiritual life or in life in general, results from this process. We chose Lectio Divina, rather than some other prayer method, because those who come to Sabbath Space told us that they would most appreciate opportunities for quiet reflection. We don’t want to bombard people with words.”

Lela Dung is a Holy Names Associate and, with her husband Garrick Dung, a member of Spokane’s Sacred Heart Parish. “My connection with Sabbath Space began about three or four years ago,” she said, “when our parish bulletin told of an invitation to attend a prayer series offered at Sabbath Space on the five Sundays of Lent. I was drawn into the invitation for a time of quiet reflective prayer based on the Sunday Scripture readings. It turned out to be a wonderful experience – just what the Spirit ordered!”

Dung said Sabbath Space became “an ideal place to lower the bucket of my longing for God deeper into the well of God’s Word. I became more aware of how rich the Scriptures are, if only I would invest my time and energy. I have attended all the years since and look forward to it again this Lent.”

All are welcome to participate in Sabbath Space’s Lenten Lectio Divina series, and the Sisters encourage both men and women to attend. The Lectio Divina sessions meet from 12:30-2:30 p.m. each Sunday from Feb. 28 to March 21, and one need not attend all sessions in the series. To extend this prayer experience through the year, twice each month, apart from Lent, Sabbath Space offers “Savoring On Wednesday,” a one-hour Lectio Divina from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

For more information call SNJM Sabbath Space at (509) 325-8642.

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