Lenten Visio Divina

We’ve shared the reasons why we think Visio Divina is powerful, but have you tried it yet? Lectio Divina is a prayer in which we delve into scripture, and Visio Divina is similar, except that we delve into sacred art with scripture as our guide!

We wanted to share with you an excerpt from our latest book, Visio Divina: Praying With Sacred Art, particularly Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy’s Christ In The Desert, a powerful painting to pray with during Lent.

Without going into detail about the steps of Visio Divina, we’re gonna simplify it as follows:

  1. Open with a prayer.

  2. Pray the scripture provided twice.

  3. Allow for three minutes of silence while you allow the scripture to unfold within the painting. This is a time to gaze.

  4. Read the reflections and prompts while you gaze on the image. Do this slowly.

  5. Close with a prayer.

There’s a bit more to it, but all the details are in the book! So take a few deep breaths, quiet yourself, and let’s pray.

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Scripture

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him. Matthew 4:1-11

Reflection

1. Look at Jesus' posture. Look at the lines and creases in His face, the bags beneath His eyes and His expression. Observe the landscape around Him, the hard rocks and dying sunset. Christ went into the desert before He began His earthly ministry. Why? Why is He there?

2. Even the devil knew scripture. That should stop and make us think about its power. Why is understanding and praying with scripture so important and how often do we do so?

3. Joseph Pieper wrote, "Contemplation does not ignore the 'historical Gethsemane', does not ignore the mystery of evil, guilt and its bloody atonement. The happiness of contemplation is a true happiness, indeed the supreme happiness; but it is founded upon sorrow." What does this mean?

5. Imagine that you come across Jesus in this painting. He is at His most vulnerable. Tired, hungry, lonely, and cold. You come up from behind Him, reach out and touch his shoulder. He lifts His head, and you kneel before Him. What look comes from His eyes? 


Would you like to pray with more sacred art? Consider buying Visio Divina, available here!