Over the Church’s history, it was known—long before anyone had heard of multiple intelligences—that some people learned better through visuals. This was especially true during times when average folks were illiterate. Today, even though most people are literate, many people (including yours truly) consider themselves visual learners.
For some people, visuals are also helpful for prayer experiences. For this reason, the Church has a tradition that parallels lectio divina (“divine reading” or reflection on the spoken Word of God in Scripture) known as visio divina (“divine seeing” or prayer in which we invite God to speak to our hearts as we look at an image).
Experience visio divina or lead others in such an experience by following these steps:
- Select a sacred image to use for reflection, and then choose a comfortable, quiet place where you will not be distracted. Quiet yourself and relax by focusing on your breathing.
- Let your gaze fall prayerfully upon the image. Pay attention to details, including shapes, colors, lighting, and facial expressions and body language of characters in the image. Once you’ve taken in the image as a whole, note what draws your attention.
- Prayerfully reflect, or meditate, on that part of the picture where your attention is drawn. Ask how God is speaking to your heart and why you think God has drawn your attention to this specific part of the image. Pay attention to your feelings, and allow God to speak to you through the image.
- Respond to God, expressing your thoughts, feelings, desires, or yearnings.
- Rest in silence before the image, enjoying the intimacy of the moment with God and savoring the beauty of the image.
To assist catechists in leading visio divina with children, the Finding God curriculum includes Exploring Faith Through Art fine art easels with 25 prints per grade-level easel. Each art print provides background about the artist, medium, and history and also offers activities related to the art, including art projects, music, movement, and using imagination in prayer. The art prints are oversized for easy viewing and impact.
What experiences of visio divina have you had?