Lectio Divina, or sacred reading, is a spiritual practice from the Early Church of reading the Bible not as a static text but as a living word with sacred and spiritual meaning. Through the four-part process of reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating a short passage of scripture, the reader is drawn into a vibrant and multifaceted experience of dwelling with God.
Add to this ancient practice the ordinary act of sketching, doodling, or drawing your thoughts, and scripture is further illuminated by adding color, imagery, and texture as you illustrate what you hear, imagine, and feel.
Let’s get started!
All you need is a blank page (or the one provided in the Illuminating Advent Guide, like the one below) and something to write and/or draw with – crayons, colored pencils, markers, pens, etc.
We will start with a prayer.
Step 1 | Lectio / Read
Listen to the passage read the first time. On the outside border of your page, write down all the words or phrases that stick out to you. Leave some room along your border to fill in more words at the end of the exercise.
Step 2 | Meditatio / Reflect
Listen to the passage read a second time. This time listen for a single word or phrase that catches your attention. Write that word or phrase, or an image that represents it, in the center of your page. Spend several minutes illuminating your word, phrase, or image by embellishing the letters, drawing images that illustrate the word, or just writing the word(s) several times in different colors or styles.
Step 3 | Oratio / Pray / Respond
Listen to the passage read a third time. This time start to make connections to the word. This is where we enter a conversation with God through the scripture, asking God to help you see how this passage is connected to you, personally. Spend time drawing all the connections that can be made by illustrating those, too.
Step 4 | Contemplatio / Contemplate
Listen to the passage read a fourth and final time. As you listen to the scripture and look at what you have drawn or written, identify those thoughts and feelings that surfaced during this time and simply offer them to God. Write or illustrate these thoughts and feelings along the remaining border of your page.
Here’s the passage we will be praying with for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
The angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”