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Reflection – Fr Gerard Oct 31, 2023

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Visio Divina
Visio Divina


Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt



The Annunciation, Fra Angelico

The Finding of Jesus in the Temple, Sofia Novelli














Visio Divina

by Fr Gerard


Did you know that viewing art can be a form of prayer? Since antiquity, artwork found in churches such as paintings, sculptures, textiles and stained-glass windows was used to provide imagery to accompany the biblical stories and Church Tradition. This was particularly useful for a large majority of church-goers who were illiterate. Prayer, while it may be the most natural thing one can do, also needs to be taught. I hope this short article might enhance your prayer life in some way, particularly as Teaching Prayer is the First Priority of the 2023 Apostolic Priorities of the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

If prayer is simply communication with God, and if there are millions of ways to communicate, then there are millions of ways of praying, and perhaps you’ve only just scratched the surface. Each of us responds differently to stimulus, so it is my hope that this might be yet another mode of prayer you might like to use to connect with the Creator of the universe. The richest method of prayer engages all the senses (hence the ‘bells and smells’ at Mass). So, for the ideal prayer experience and for best results, find a quiet place where you can be alone, away from external distractions. Visio Divina, Latin for Divine Seeing, is a form of prayer in which one meditates on sacred art.


Steps of Visio Divina


Visio (Gaze)


Choose a sacred image, look at the artwork and notice what strikes you. Allow yourself to be surprised or puzzled. Is there anything you have not noticed before, or anything that should be asked or explained for this text to be understood?

Meditatio (Meditation)



Ponder the image once more. Prayerfully listen to the accompanying Scripture, being attentive to what words or phrases strike you. Spend time pondering how the Image of God sheds light on your life here and now.

Oratio (Prayer)



Having observed the Image of God, we now respond in prayer. Speak to God about what you’re noticing. This is a conversation from your heart with the Lord.

Contemplatio (Contemplation)



This is the purpose of visio: to hear the living Word of God today. What does God say to me? Simply rest with God. This is a time of divine intimacy.

Actio (Action)



Ask God how he wants you to live out anything that came up during this time of prayer.







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