Fr. Brian Christensen, Rome, was the featured speaker at the Deanery one Day of Mercy, July 19, at St. Therese Church, Rapid City. He spoke on “Lectio Divina.” (WRC photo)
By Laurie Hallstrom
For the past two years, Father Christensen has been serving in Rome on the faculty of the seminary, Pontifical North American College. He was in Rapid City for a short time this summer.
“It has been a privileged time to work with future priests who will serve here in the United States. They are good men — very inspiring work. I have great hope for the church in the United States and throughout the world because of the goodness and perseverance of these men. It is a great joy to be with them. Also, I have had the opportunity to be close to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, especially during this year of mercy,” he said.
“I had an opportunity to share in days of retreat that the Holy Father had during the special jubilee year for priests. It was really a very powerful time, three hours with Pope Francis offering spiritual conferences for priests and a Holy Hour concluding with Mass on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The pope’s blessing of priests, his encouragement for priests was for me and for so many, very powerful and uplifting.
In his talk on Lectio Divina, Father Christensen emphasized the importance of silence.
“As St. Augustine of Hippo so keenly noted so many centuries ago, back in the fourth century, we are restless until we rest in God. There is a deep, deep longing within each of our human hearts, a desire that’s not quenched by the things of this world. No thing or person will satisfy our human hearts until they discover the fullness of God,” he said. “The Father draws us into this relationship through his son, Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit.”
He recounted Jesus leaving his disciples and the crowds to be with the Father and pray in silence. “In order to be capable of reflecting God’s mercy rediscover the value of silence,” he said. “In silence we hear God’s word which transforms us.”
According to Father Christensen, Lectio Divina is an attentive engagement with the word of God that leads to communion and a new way of life, “We live in a very busy world, filled with so many activities, sometimes very frenetic activity. To cultivate silence even in short periods during our day is difficult but essential to our relationship with God,” he said.
To begin the practice of Lectio Divina he recommended using either the church’s daily readings or the Sunday Gospel.
“We don’t just read it, its about attentive reading, listening to what God is saying, reading it once, reading it a second time, reading it a third time. What word, what phrase, what image jumps out at you,” said Father Christensen. Take time to reflect on that image or phrase.
“Daily prayer is our life breath, without it our supernatural lives will quickly suffocate.
“Do not be anxious. Seek God, do not worry whether you are doing things right. There is no one with more patience than God. No one who wants to help you more,” he said.