Visio Divina – Praying with Art
You probably know what Lectio Divina is, but are you familiar with Visio Divina?
Lectio Divina is a method of prayerfully reading Sacred Scripture, in which you slowly read, meditate, pray, contemplate and respond to a specific verse or verses in the Bible. Often the Psalms are used to do this and it a wonderful habit to get into as it makes one's prayer life so very rich. Visio Divina, which is Latin for "divine seeing", is a method of praying with an image. Above is an image by Federico Fiori Barocci painted in 1570 that perfectly fits today's Gospel. The memory of this image quickly filled my mind as I heard the Gospel proclaimed today and I decided that when I got home from Mass I was going to find this image, Rest on the Flight to Egypt, and continue my Sunday prayer with a Visio Divina on the Holy Family.
I was so blessed to be led through a beautiful meditation by Fr. Mark Haydu on this painting while at the Napa Institute last July. Being part of Fr. Haydu's Visio Divina on this masterpiece was a complete surprise to me! I had been running late that morning and missed the lecture I intended on going to, so instead of entering the lecture late, I decided to go into the chapel to pray with my friend Patti Jannuzzi. I was completely surprised when Fr. Haydu stood, exposed the Blessed Sacrament, and then in the true presence of Jesus Christ, Father walked us through the true beauty of the a piece of art that told of the Lord's early life as He fled with His family to Egypt. (Though I was surprised to be in the right place at the right time, I imagine the Holy Spirit wasn't surprised I landed in the chapel in time for the meditation on Vatican Art!) The experience had a profound effect on me and since that day, Visio Divina has become something I have wanted to make more a part of my prayer life.
After the meditation, Fr. Haydu told us of an exquisite book, soon to be published, that guides the reader through spiritual meditations with masterpieces of the Vatican Museum and also encompasses Ignatian Exercises; but my heart sank as I learned the book would not be published for months. But here's the GOOD NEWS—the book is available for purchase now! Ahhhh, the JOY of Christmas continues!
I was so excited to find this book published, that I immediately ordered my copy and I have decided practicing Visio Divina with this book is going to be my New Year Resolution!
Each Saturday morning beginning in 2014, I am going to do one of these reflections. With that goal in mind, today I decided I'd look deeper into Meditations with Vatican Art, so I went to their website and saw you could download three of the meditations. I thought, "Perfect, this will surely help to give me an idea of what my 2014 Saturdays will look like," but get this, the sense of being surprised by JOY continued as I realized one of those meditations was the Visio Divina for the picture above, the picture that so perfectly put an image with today's Gospel, Matthew 2:13-23.
Thus, I have decided to use the downloaded pdf meditation on Rest on the Flight to Egypt to do a Visio Divina today in order to get a little taste of what 2014 will bring and I invite you to join me—both today and on the first 28 Saturdays of 2014. It will be like an elongated 28-week Ignatian Retreat.
To join me today, download the pdf here -> Rest on the Flight to Egypt
The Focus of this Meditation: The hidden years of the Holy Family are veiled in mystery, still we are invited to prayerfully enter. Like a window, this painting images the family of Jesus in flight. May we imitate the virtues and lives of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as we endure our own personal trials and tribulations.
To join me for the next 28 Saturdays, purchase the book here -> Meditations with Vatican Art