11. Guidelines for Leaders

Advance Preparation

We recommend leaders prepare one week in advance. It is essential to reflect on the Gospel passage several days in advance no matter how familiar it is! Prepare an introduction even if only a sentence or two (our weekly readings in section 3 will provide some examples).

Leading

1. We recommend leaders commence with an opening prayer that groups (individuals) may find personal stillness or quiet rest during your time together.

2. If there are newcomers it would help them if the leader gave a short instruction about the sequence of stages during your group reflection.

They may appreciate a copy of our two leaflets:

"Contemplative Meditation Prayer"

 and 

"Affirmation Prayer"

3. We suggest the following minimal introduction. Our paper: "The Seven R's" could be discussed in a separate session. 

(i) Prayerful reading aloud followed by silent reading (Lectio)

(ii) Progressive unfolding oral reflection on the Gospel reading in which some may choose to share perceptions. (Meditatio)

(iii) A time of silent response of prayer from the heart. (Oratio)

(iv) A time of silence, stillness, listening, inner beholding, of rest in God. (strictly maintained silence is critical) (Contemplatio)

4. When it is time to start Lectio, read chosen passage aloud and then re-read silently (reverse order if preferred).

5. Choose an appropriate approach and lead the group through the text:

a) Walk through verse by verse,

b) review section by section especially for longer reading.(Use a "prepared" key question as an opening thought)

Adhere (strictly) to the rule 'Do not cross reference other scripture' unless it is an integral part of what Jesus is saying or meaning. This prevents inappropriate displays of scripture knowledge.  It also maintains the focus and avoids the distraction of thoughts 'zapping' all over the place. It will help the group to maintain focus on the text, that is, focus on the Word.

Some Further Suggestions

  • Remind the group, as necessary, that we reflect in order to listen to the Word within or behind the Words.
  • Avoid treating the group as a school class, e.g. "And Mary...What do you think...?" or "Charles, we haven't heard from you. What...?"
  • Ask questions and accept answers graciously
  • Avoid focussing on wrong answers and use them to move closer to the content of the reading.
  • Don't allow interruption of slow or quiet speakers, by others.
  • If something interrupts the flow of the Lectio, lead with another prepared question, so as to maintain direction.
  • Allow all relevant contributions.
  • Do not allow questions about peripherals to take time or change the focus.
  • Close in a decisive, clear, but gentle way.

Cautionary Notes

Do not make the fatal mistake modern church liturgy reformers have made, thinking everyone must participate or be involved in the same way. In any group but particularly in prayer focused groups, there will be several levels of involvement. Sometimes the quietest may make the most critical contribution whether by presence alone or a gesture at a key moment, or asking a pertinent question which takes the group discussion to a new level... or whatever.

Please remember this is a group 'oral meditation', not a Bible Study. Leaders who feel compelled to display their advanced knowledge should look to other gatherings.

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