Have you heard of visio divina?
I hadn’t, until I was asked to review Transformed by God’s Word, a wonderful new book by Stephen Binz. Immediately, I was intrigued by the subtitle: Discovering the Power of Lectio and Visio Divina. Lectio divina, I know well. But visio?
Visio divina—“sacred seeing”— is an Eastern Orthodox tradition of contemplating sacred images, allowing them to lead us into a prayer and a quiet resting in God’s presence. Binz does a masterful job of melding this practice with lectio divina (“sacred reading”) and providing the reader with a real opportunity to enter into the mysteries of the rosary in Scripture and as they appear in a lovely set of contemporary icons from Nazareth in Israel.
Transformed by God’s Word is an excellent book for beginners and seasoned readers of Scripture alike. Binz clearly explains both lectio and visio divina and gives a good case for the formative value of doing them together. But the real value is in the main set of chapters, one for each of 20 mysteries of the rosary, in which he walks the reader through both “divinas,” lectio and visio. In the process, he facilitates a deep entry into the mysteries.
Part of the beauty of the book is the icons Binz uses to focus his visio divina: 20 icons by Ruta and Kaspars Poikans, reproduced in full color, that are a central feature of the Unity Chapel at the Mary of Nazareth International Center in Nazareth. I am used to “seeing” through the words of Scripture. Contemplating these icons in tandem with the Scripture they bring to life gave me a new, deeper experience of the Word. I can hardly wait spend time with them in person, next time I am in Israel.
Transformed by God’s Word, by Stephen Binz, is available from Ave Maria Press. I’d love to know what you think of it!
© 2016 Sarah Christmyer.