Thursday, March 21, 2013

Conversing with God in the Easter Season by Stephen Binz

Conversing with God in the Easter Season: Praying the Sunday Mass Readings with Lectio DivinaConversing with God in the Easter Season: Praying the Sunday Mass Readings with Lectio Divina by Stephen J. Binz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Mystagogy" is a Greek word referring to the process of leading those who have been initiated into a mystery into an understanding of its deep meaning and its significance for their lives. ...

After the Easter Vigil, the neophytes are not simply sent home to do their best. They continue to gather throughout the Easter season. They share their reflections on their deeper life in Christ through the sacramental life of his Church, and they continue to learn. In this way, they are like the disciples in the resurrection narratives of the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles. They are learning from their encounters with the risen Christ and growing in faith and love. The Church's period of mystagogy teaches the rich significance of the Church's Scriptures and sacramental worship, drawing out the inexhaustible meaning of the baptismal covenant and the Eucharistic liturgy.

Mystagogy, however, is not limited to the newly baptized. It is a lifelong process of ongoing conversion and growth in understanding for all Christians. Because in the resurrection God has made all things new, the liturgy and Scripture readings of the Easter season work toward shaping a resurrection mentality in all who live in Christ. Whatever burdens us, whatever we are ashamed of, whatever we lament, whatever has broken our hearts is placed before the open word of God whose light streams forth from the open tomb of Christ. ...
Did you see what author Stephen Binz did there? In the introduction of the book he wasted no time in drawing us into Scripture itself for reflection. My imagination thrilled thinking of the new Catholics, like the disciples on Emmaus road, whose hearts are burning within them encountering the risen Christ. I also loved the imagery of the light from the tomb streaming across us, across me, healing as it gently warms and enlightens.

Although this is not the heart of Conversing with God in the Easter Season, the excerpt gives a good idea of how Binz uses every opportunity to draw us closer to Christ. Keeping our eyes on the Easter candle's light, he walks readers through the simple steps of lectio divina: lectio (reading), meditatio (reflection), oratio (praying), contemplatio (resting in God), and operatio (witness in daily life).

Binz illuminates the Sunday readings from the entire Easter season for each of the A, B, and C cycles so the book can be used every year. I especially appreciated his care with the material as I compared Sundays from different cycles that have identical Gospel readings. Obviously, the similarity of the overall message is not ignored, however, Binz's attention to the details and context allow him to raise subtly different points for meditation.

For example, Easter Sunday for years A, B, and C all feature a reading from Acts 10:34A, 37-43. For year A Binz shows how Peter's dramatic testimony to Cornelius and his family is the first example of news that will ripple through the Acts of the Apostles to convert the entire world. Year B discusses the very personal nature of Peter's eyewitness testimony. Year C considers Peter's transformation from the man who denied Christ three times into the confident, courageous speaker we see in a Gentile household.

I can't recommend Binz's Lectio Divina books highly enough. If you want to make this Easter season a richer, more spiritual experience, this book will shine light on your path.

More books I like by Stephen Binz: Conversing with God in Advent, Learning to Pray in Scripture.

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