Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lectio caffea

Mrs. H. and I have stumbled on a wonderfully simple way to incorporate God's Word into our addictive morning caffeination routine.

Our quotidian matinal ritual is for me to prepare a large bowl of cappuccino for each of us. While I am loading the grind into the espresso-maker, preparing the milk, gathering our cups and sugar, and beginning the aromatic process of forcing hot water through the delightful concoction of pulverized naturally-drug-laced roasted beans, Mrs. H. reads aloud the appointed lection from the One Year Bible. And we, being good company synodical types, are using the English Standard Version of the OYB.

As it takes about 15 minutes to make our brew (start to finish), and roughly 20 minutes to read the appointed reading for the day, the time is roughly congruent. It typically allows me to join Mrs. H., sit down, and begin sipping during the New Testament portion of the reading.

Mrs. H. just has to either increase the volume or take a short break during the frothing stage (which refers to my steaming of the milk as opposed to Ezekiel railing against the unrepentant). But it works out just fine.

We started roughly a month ago, and given the consistency of our morning addiction, er, routine, it makes for an easy commitment to keep.

The OYB is a particular lesson plan in which each day's readings are grouped together in 365 daily segments from January 1 to December 31. The readings are not in canonical order in one fell swoop, but comprise a four-part lectio continua (continuous reading) in the form of a reading from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, one from the Psalms, and a final reading from Proverbs. Within these categories, the readings are in canonical order. Over the course of the year, the Psalms are read through twice.

This is different than the reading plan from the Treasury of Daily Prayer (which we pray separately) - especially insofar as it is a true lectio divina. The readings flow in order from one day to the next. There is no jumping around, and nothing is skipped as a result of the flexibility of the church calendar. These morning readings are, for us, not quite prayer and not quite Bible study - but they are both studious and meditative nonetheless. We figured that the years are going to pass by anyway, and so five years from now we might as well have read the Bible (at least the 66 books of the Protestant Bible) aloud all the way through five times rather than filling the morning air with smalltalk or yawning. We've really come to look forward to our lectio caffea.

If you would like to try to implement such a plan at your home, I do have a few recommendations:
  • Start now. Don't wait until New Year's Day. By starting now (it is November as I write), you can get the routine well-established before your January First plunge into the initial chapters of Genesis and Matthew. Advent is at hand, so this is a good time to make a trial run and get the kinks worked out before the Kalends of January fall upon us.
  • Pick up the little One Year Bible Companion and read it after the appointed daily readings. It is a very brief (maybe 2 minutes) Q&A for each day. They are almost always helpful mini-discussion questions on the text, though once in a while they reflect a theological bias toward neo-evangelicalism. At very least, they get the gears turning and establish a pattern of consideration and reflection.
  • Read out loud, and if possible, make it a group or family activity. By reading silently, it is too easy to zone out or to scan the reading quickly just to make your obligation. Reading aloud to the family makes you slow down, helps insure group accountability, and, as St. Paul tells us, "faith comes by hearing." Even if you are alone, reading aloud makes use of two senses rather than one. And if you have children, you have the added benefit of them hearing the word of God and seeing Mom and Dad reading the Holy Scriptures together every day.
  • Get a small pronunciation guide. Reading names from ancient foreign languages may be awkward at first, but over time, it will become second nature.
This lectio continua will benefit, and in many cases, complement, your use of another daily prayer resource, such as the TDP. Repetition helps to implant the text into the ear, the mind, and the heart. The more familiar we are with Scripture, the more it affects our vocabulary, worldview, and biblical literacy.

Smokers (and vapers) can take advantage of their own brand of ritualism, especially by adding the Holy Scriptures to the morning cup of coffee and smoke. If you're going to have a habit, you might as well sanctify it.

The OYB is available in many versions - including several "Catholic Editions" that includes the deutero-canonical books, though they are segregated into separate additional readings, which is not the most natural way to incorporate these books into one's continuous reading. The Catholic Editions are also very weak translations, such as the politically-correct New Revised Standard Version used in many, if not most, American Roman Catholic churches.

The OYB is available in the KJV to the delight of both "Jack Chick" Fundamentalists and "Smells and Bells" Gottesdiensters. To the chagrin of Deacon Gaba, however, it is not yet available in a Clementine Vulgate edition.


Anonymous said...

Smokers (and vapers) can take advantage of their own brand of ritualism, especially by adding the Holy Scriptures to the morning cup of coffee and smoke. If you're going to have a habit, you might as well sanctify it.

LOL!! I gave up the evil nicotine habit many years ago, but got to have my cup (or two) of Kava in the morning!

So, Father Hollywood, you are recommending the ESV One-Year Bible along with the little handbook as they are shown on the links here? Hmmm. This does sound like a great way to start the day.

I was amazed when I heard that the new Roman Missal translation would incorporate the texts of the NRSV. The new Missal is supposed to restore some reverence to Catholic worship so it seems very odd that the NRSV, which is indeed very politically correct, was chosen for the Scriptural texts.


Jonathan said...

Well, trying to get 5 of us out the door on weekday mornings by 0645 is an absolutely hectic rush, it's inconceivable to fit it in there.

But, our joint commute to jobs and school takes us a guaranteed minimum 30 minute van ride when we are all a captive audience.

So I think I will propose "lectio commutae" to my family!

Thanks for the suggestion!

Raggedy Lamb said...

Thanks for some ideas. Year before last my after-supper Bible readings to my family petered out for several reasons. Then last year I attempted with the TDP, but my family still needs milk and couldn't digest the meat of that book. Your sharing that you use it for personal reading is reassuring to me. That's what I've been doing.

Also, I've been debating whether or not to get the new Lutheran Study Bible. (My family is beginning to wonder how come I need another Bible!) Maybe the One Year ESV would be good for them. (To clarify: I'm the only one that goes to church, and the air at home feels like it's okay for me to go but I don't really have to bring it home.) Now... to check out those links and rattle my piggy bank!

I really like your blog, Pastor Hollywood! Thanks.