Seventeen thousand young people attended Seek this past week, a nationwide conference for young Catholics, and if that doesn’t give you hope for our Church, well…maybe this will.
I was introduced to Visio Divina last year, and though it is a fairly new form of prayer, I think it can aid the revitalization and renewal of our Church, particularly for our generation.
For those who are not familiar with it, Visio Divina is similar to Lectio Divina, though instead of immersing oneself in scripture, sacred art is the key for this meditation.
Seriously, imagine immersing yourself into this painting after reading its corresponding scripture passage and reflecting on the guided questions which range from the vague (“This painting is titled ‘the First Mourning’ and calls to mind the Pieta…”) to specific (“Eve is tucked against Adam’s rib…”). Okay, not great vague-specific questions, but you catch the drift.
But we think Visio Divina can unlock something so direly needed in our visually stimulated culture. Our world is so increasingly visual. Back in the day, maybe the sense we relied on most was audio. You know, gathering around the radio and listening to the broadcasts. But our generation is now totally visual. We’ve got instagram. We’ve got selfies. We have pornography and binge watching. Our attention spans are short, and though lectio works for me and many, it might not for others because it requires a lot of focus. Because it kind of happens in your head. And requires lot of slowing down. And so often, our minds can begin to wonder off or our fragile focus can break like a little twig.
Visio Divina takes the richness of lectio but helps you to focus by inviting you to gaze on an image. A sacred image, that is. Something that speaks of beauty. That captures us. That provokes our emotions. The steps are similar to lectio (there’s oratio (prayer), meditatio (meditation), etc), and scripture is still very much a part of the meditation.
SO. Because we’re so excited about Visio Divina, we had to do something about it. Enter, Visio Divina: Praying With Sacred Art. This coffee table esque book is filled with tons of famous paintings, scripture, and reflection questions to help you encounter the faith in perhaps a way you haven’t before. You can do it either in a group setting or privately, and we’re excited to share with you that pre-orders are now available in soft cover, hard, or an online version!
These next few months are tough for a lot of people. It can take a lot of effort to get through them. So fill it with beauty. Wait with joy for something to arrive on your doorstep. Try something new in your bible study. And get ready to experience Visio Divina: Praying With Sacred Art.