Transformed by God’s Word

Binz Book sizedThis is a lovely book by Stephen Binz about seeing anew the power of Lectio Divina when combined with Visio Divina, praying with icons. The images of icons are created by Ruta and Kaspars Poikans.

Sometimes Lectio Divina can become stale, performed out of love for God’s word instead of embraced with delight at what he might be saying to us. This book brings its readers to illumination, a visual sense combined with The Word brightening the mind.

The author walks you along a path of “formative experience” beginning with the familiar; listening deeply to a scripture as it is being read. With a short reflection we are moved into the Visio, gazing upon the wonderfully created icons that are exceptionally detailed for a non-glossy print. Looking at the images–the tilt of a head, position of hands, stance of a body–the scripture comes alive with deeper clarity.

It doesn’t stop there! We continue the faith journey as if walking through a garden with questions of, “Did you see that bud or small fruit, and had you noticed how the twist along the way enhanced the beauty?” Binz asks us to look about and within to see what seeds have been planted, and what fruits we will bear.

The author and artists skillfully unite The Word and icons in beautiful prayer, allowing us to enter into a healing and enlightening encounter with Our Lord.

With 20 meditations, it is an excellent choice for later in Lent to encourage you towards a personal resurrection at Easter.

I recommend this book for the beginner or the well travelled. It is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or from the publisher Ave Maria Press.

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Lent’s Perennial List, Fasting From

Every Lent (usually before Ash Wednesday!) I am asked to post the perennial “Fasting From” list.

This began as a series of weekly columns on this blog about fasting from certain attitudes and striving to become more virtuous. Several of those columns made their way into my book Cultivating God’s Garden through Lent .

The list of those fourteen “Fasting From” reflections became popular, and many friends said they had printed them out and hung them in work spaces.

So, here again is the excerpt from my book:

One year during a late winter retreat a small handout was distributed and the idea of “giving up,” or fasting, took on a whole new purpose. Here is what it said:

Fast from bitterness; turn to forgiveness

Fast from hatred; return good for evil

Fast from negativism; be positive

Fast from complaining; be grateful

Fast from pessimism; be an optimist

Fast from harsh judgments; think kindly thoughts

Fast from worry; trust in Divine Providence

Fast from discouragement; be full of hope

Fast from anger; be more patient

Fast from pettiness; be more mature

Fast from gloom; enjoy the beauty around you

Fast from jealousy; pray for trust

Fast from gossiping; control your thoughts

Fast from sin; turn to virtue

Maybe we should consider hanging this list on the fridge for more than the forty days of Lent.

We are taught to be charitable in how we respond towards others. We also need to be charitable with ourselves as we become a more virtuous person.  Let us begin our journey this Lent with our hearts open, accepting the challenges to become who we are truly called to be as Christians. A virtuous life isn’t for the faint of heart.

May God always be praised!