Youth Ministry & Lectio Divina

Knowledge of Holy Scripture is essential to appreciating the Church’s liturgy and so for our own personal, prayer lives. Unfortunately, many Orthodox Christians aren’t familiar with the Bible. This problem is not unique to our time. St John Chrysostom, for example, says this the parents in his own community:

Do not say, Bible is for monks; am I turning my child into a monk? No! It is not necessary for him to be a monk. Make him into a Christian! Why are you afraid of something so good? It is necessary for everyone to know Scriptural teachings, and this is especially true for children. Not knowing divine truths, they do know something of the pagan stories, learning from them about wondrous lives, about heroes in their sight, who served the passions and were afraid of death. Such an example is Achilles, inconsolably dying for his mistress; another who gives himself over to drunkenness, and on and on! Therefore your children need remedies for these things, in the retribution and teachings of the Lord.

So even in the 4th century, in the “Golden Age” of the Church, there were many Orthodox Christians who resisted, and even flat-out rejected, the idea that all that knowledge of Scripture is a central part of life in Christ.

Especially because of the influence of Evangelical converts to Orthodoxy, Bible studies have become more common in our parishes. But this isn’t simply the result of converts wanting to replicate something from their past. I find that while many Orthodox Christians don’t have much interest in reading the Bible, there are many others who want to learn the Scriptures.

This interest is also found among young people.

One way to help introduce youth to help them learn to use the Scriptures as part of their own, personal prayer life. The daily Gospel reading is an excellent place to start. It’s usually fairly short. And because the readings are listed on calendars most parishes give out every year, they are easy to find.

An interesting lesson to offer for older students is the formal process of spiritual reading called lectio divina (Sacred Reading). Like with enlisting students in reading at services, you might consider asking your priest to explain how to find the daily readings in the Bible.

I’ve attached a pdf that does a good job in outlining the four steps that are the traditional parts of lectio divina (and before you ask, this is a practice common to Orthodox as well as Catholics, don’t let the Latin name confuse you!). The goal here is to provide youth with a structure to help them become familiar with the Gospel that will hopefully develop into a love of Scripture.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Lectio Divina Handout