Visio Divina

Andrei Rublev, Trinity

What is it?

Visio Divina is a way of drawing closer to God through meditation on visual objects. Visio Divina is Latin for “divine seeing.” 

How did Visio Divina begin?

Although the name is new, different elements date back to ancient times. For centuries people have been visually contemplating  images that draw them closer to God in many different religious traditions. Think of the sacred designs of Hindus and Buddhists called mandalas, religious statues created by the Greek and African religions, the sacred designs of Islamic cultures and icons of Orthodox Christians.  In Europe medieval and more modern religious paintings were created to bring the viewer closer to the divine.

How is it related to Lectio Divina?

Lectio Divina or Divine Reading is an ancient practice from the Benedictine Tradition. This usually focusses us on scripture. Through stages of prayerful attentiveness to the reading, the listener comes closer to God In recent years some spiritual writers have connected the structure and intent of Lectio Divina to the long history of spiritual images.   

What has Visio Divina to do with prayer?

Prayer can be seen as both communicating withGod and being with God.Visio Divina can lead us into deeper communion with God by inviting us into prayerful presence where we can rest in God’s presence. Unlike petitionary prayer, we are not looking for anything. 

How does it work?

Here is one method. Look at the resources for others.

PREPARATION

Prepare the resource material for the Visio Divina: make sure the art is visible to all if this is group prayer. This can come from digital, print, video or a live guide. If the art depicts a Biblical scene, open the Bible to that passage. Settle yourself in an appropriate prayer space. Centre yourself in quiet prayer.

GAZING

Gaze at the image. What do you notice? On what details do you focus? What emotions does it evoke?

RESPONDING

If the passage depicts or evokes a Biblical scene, read the passage from the Bible slowly and meditatively. Respond to the image with prayer. How do you see or feel the sacred in this image?

REFLECTING

View, listen to or read the resource material slowly. Take a second, deeper look. What insights did the resource material produce?

Engage your imagination. Where are you in the artwork? What do you see from that perspective? 

RESTING

Gently gaze at the image for a while. How does this image lead you closer to God? Did it open a new awareness, or spark a conviction? Rest in this sacred space.

ACTION

Prayer is completed in action. How does this prayer experience connect with your life? How can your insights help others? Which insight or part of the image do you most want to carry with you?

How can Visio Divina promote faith development?

Visio divina is related to the sacramental principle that permeates Catholicism. Sacrametality tells us that God’s grace extends through creation and humanity’s creative responses. Visio Divina prmotes the practice of seeing the divine all around us. We can see this throuh practicing Visio Divina in several stages:

  1. Visio Divina of sacred art.
  2. Visio Divina of parts of your Church.
  3. Visio Divina of secular art.
  4. Visio Divina of photographs of creation.
  5. Visio Divina of any visual media.
  6. Visio Divina of any aspect of life.
  7. Visio Divina of my ministry

What are some art works that can be used for Visio Divina?

From carfleo.com:

Rembrandt Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Other Visio Divina Resources are found on carfleo.com

Using Visio Divina in Canadian Religious Education Textbooks.

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