Family Check-ins: Praying with Emotions

Making The Saint John’s Bible a Part of Your Home
National Bible Week 2015

“National Bible Week provides a unique opportunity for parents to revisit and renew their understanding of the power of the Word of God in the life of their family. As leaders of the ‘domestic Church,’ parents are encouraged to be not only the first but the best of teachers for their children in the ways of faith.” -USCCB

Day Six

Teach—Discuss with your children that God, who created us, gave us our ability to feel and that these feelings are our emotions. When we pray to God, we do not need to hide anything from him. Prayer is a time to be honest and express any feeling that we have, including the emotions that are considered “negative.”

Show— Throughout the Bible, there are a vast array of emotions expressed as people cry out to God in varying circumstances. Identify some Bible verses that show the variety of ways people express their emotions to God. After you read each one, discuss which emotion(s) it expresses.

Examples:

Joy & Gladness – Psalm 4:7; Psalm 149: 1
Sadness – Psalm 119:28
Humility – Psalm 8:4-5
Thanksgiving & Gratitude – Psalm 28: 6-7; Psalm 30: 11-12; Psalm 107:1
Sorry & Repentance – Psalm 51:3, 12
Distress – Psalm 120:1
Comfort – Psalm 23:4, Psalm 34:18
Assurance – Psalm 121:1-4, 7-8; Psalm 145:18-19

You can also use the illuminations to discuss the emotions you see depicted in The Saint John’s Bible. Search for faces and identify the expressions you find.

Brainstorm— Naming emotions can be difficult, it but can be more accessible if there is a list of emotions to reference. After discussing some of the emotions found in Scripture, spend time as a group thinking of as many emotions as you can. Write them down and leave room to add more as you think of them later. This list can be used each time you talk about feelings.

Check-in and Share—Many families already have a system for checking in with one another such as having each individual share the highs and lows of their day. There are many names and versions of this, but the concept is to give every family member the opportunity to express something good and something less than desirable that occurred throughout their day. By doing this in the context of reading Scripture, the connection will be made that God cares for the whole person and all aspects of human life. Invite each member of the family to identify how each particular high and low made them feel, referring to the list of emotions when necessary.

For example:

Today ____________ happened. Because of this, I feel ___________.

Pray: Allow each person to have time to express how they are feeling in a prayer directly to God. This may be done out loud to the group or silently. You may also choose to spend time writing your own psalms. Conclude with petitions that arise from what has been shared or reread one of the Psalms you used.

Honoring Your Imagination and Creativity

Making The Saint John’s Bible a Part of Your Home
National Bible Week 2015

“National Bible Week provides a unique opportunity for parents to revisit and renew their understanding of the power of the Word of God in the life of their family. As leaders of the ‘domestic Church,’ parents are encouraged to be not only the first but the best of teachers for their children in the ways of faith.” -USCCB

Day Five

Depending on a person’s preferred learning style—auditory, visual, or kinesthetic—individuals might find affinities for different types of prayer. Consider what types of activities the members of your family prefer and make those a part of your prayer. Whether that be playing or making music inspired by the Word of God, listening to audio recordings of Scripture, singing, drawing your own interpretations of the Biblical scenes, writing and decorating the word you receive in lectio divina, or creating mini plays or skits, honor what you and your family members are naturally drawn to do.

The Saint John’s Bible is undoubtedly brimming with creativity. After spending some time doing visio divina, you might be surprised by the ways in which you are learning God speaks to you—through colors, textures, lines, patterns, and so on. As you begin to trust what God is revealing through the work of the artists and calligraphers of The Saint John’s Bible, hopefully you will learn to trust the images that unfold internally within you, too.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a huge proponent of praying with one’s imagination, which is practiced by placing oneself in the scenes of Scripture. The idea is that once you read a Biblical text, you then begin to visualize what you heard, imagining where you are and who you are with. Next directing your attention to the details, you ask yourself what you see, hear, taste, touch, smell, and feel. This is a type of prayer that anyone can do at any age. Within our imaginations we can see, hear, and touch things in the scenes as if we were there. In this way, the living Word of God becomes personal.

Tips:

  • Designate someone to read the passage of your choosing.
  • Then allow some quiet reflection time so that everyone can enter into their own imaginations and encounter God uniquely.
  • You may find it helpful to prepare a list of basic questions for each person to have in front of them such as: What is around me? Who else is there? What do their faces look like? Are they happy? Sad? Angry? What emotions do I feel? What do I hear? Is anyone speaking to me? What are the smells?
  • This could also be a great time to bring out any art or craft supplies, so that those who wish to draw or otherwise create what is in their imagination may do so.
  • Invite each person to share about what he or she experienced.
  • Conclude by reading the passage a final time.

Picking a Theme: Praying with the Miracles

Making The Saint John’s Bible a Part of Your Home
National Bible Week 2015

“National Bible Week provides a unique opportunity for parents to revisit and renew their understanding of the power of the Word of God in the life of their family. As leaders of the ‘domestic Church,’ parents are encouraged to be not only the first but the best of teachers for their children in the ways of faith.” -USCCB

Day Four

The Bible is a big book and sometimes we wonder where to begin. The Gospels are always a great place to start. They are often the most familiar to us.  To narrow your focus, choose a theme (e.g. the miracles) and work your way through passages with that theme over the course of weeks or months.

The miracles performed by Jesus in the New Testament offer us particular insight into who Jesus is. By reading about the many miracles, signs and wonders he performed, we come to know Jesus’ mission in which we are called to participate. These events reveal to us the will of the Father.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.'”
-John 5:19

To get started, here are printouts of three illuminations from The Saint John’s Bible showing miracles Jesus performed. Read each passage as a family, take some time to journal what you see in the illumination, then end with discussion. From week to week, center your discussion on the similarities and differences you notice about Jesus in each particular miracle.

  1. Calming-of-the-Storm.pdf (386 downloads)
  2. Two-Cures.pdf (359 downloads)
  3. Raising-of-Lazarus.pdf (344 downloads)

 

Adding Scripture to Your Family’s Daily Routines

Making The Saint John’s Bible a Part of Your Home
National Bible Week 2015

“National Bible Week provides a unique opportunity for parents to revisit and renew their understanding of the power of the Word of God in the life of their family. As leaders of the ‘domestic Church,’ parents are encouraged to be not only the first but the best of teachers for their children in the ways of faith.” -USCCB

Day THREE

As you begin to incorporate Scripture into your home life, try adding it after a meal, as part of preparation for bedtime, or whenever your family is most likely to gather together already.

Keep it short and simple. Write down Scripture verses on slips of paper and each day ask a different family member to draw a passage, find it in the Bible, and read it aloud. Make sure to include everyone. For those that are not able to read, pick one line from the passage you have read and ask them to repeat it back to you.  End with a brief discussion.

Other Tips:

  • Equip your children by teaching them short verses from Scripture that can be quietly repeated over and over such as while brushing their teeth or if they awake in the middle of the night..
  • Use Bible quotes to help your children practice their handwriting.

Once you have introduced Scripture into your daily routines, choose a consistent time that you will intentionally gather together for a longer reflection—perhaps one evening a month or a Saturday afternoon before a special family dinner. One aspect of these longer reflections will be to invite everyone to listen for a word that God has for them as the passage is read aloud. This word is something that everyone can carry with them throughout the rest of the week or month. Find creative ways to check back with your family members on how God continues to speak to them through their word.

Barbara Sutton has designed the following resource, which describes the reflection process you can use with the Seeing the Word Reflection Guides in more detail.

Download it here: Using-Seeing-the-Word-at-Home-with-Families.pdf (273 downloads)

Praying with Your Family

 

Displaying Your Bible Prominently in Your Home

Making The Saint John’s Bible a Part of Your Home
National Bible Week 2015

“National Bible Week provides a unique opportunity for parents to revisit and renew their understanding of the power of the Word of God in the life of their family. As leaders of the ‘domestic Church,’ parents are encouraged to be not only the first but the best of teachers for their children in the ways of faith.” -USCCB

Day Two

Do not let your Bible sit idle on a shelf or coffee table. Bring it out and designate a spot in your home where it will be visible to all members of your family. Displaying the Bible with the pages open is a way of showing that you are receptive to hearing God speak to you throughout your day. Each time you pass by it, you might recall the last verse of Scripture you read and allow that to dwell within you as you go about your daily routine.

Tips:

  • Consider using a cookbook stand, an artist’s easel, or a music stand. These are all great ways to prop the Bible up and display its pages.
  • Decorate the area around the Bible with cloth, candles, flowers, garlands, etc.
  • Allow each member of your family to contribute to the display, adding any physical objects that may serve as reminders for prayer intentions.
  • Leave some papers, pens, and a bowl nearby. After you write a prayer intention, leave it in the bowl. Then draw a different slip out of the bowl to pray for a family member’s intention.
  • Do not be afraid to remove it from its place during family prayer times to read from it directly! It is meant to be held and flipped through! The Saint John’s Bible was created with the intent that people would gather around it. Thus the size lends itself well for the use of families.

Taylor and Son Color

 

Lectio Divina for Personal Prayer

Making The Saint John’s Bible a Part of Your Home
National Bible Week 2015

“National Bible Week provides a unique opportunity for parents to revisit and renew their understanding of the power of the Word of God in the life of their family. As leaders of the ‘domestic Church,’ parents are encouraged to be not only the first but the best of teachers for their children in the ways of faith.” -USCCB

Day One

This first day is all about you, parents! In order to make the Word of God a priority in your home and the lives of your children, start by firmly rooting yourself in Scripture and developing your own prayer routine.

The practices of lectio divina (“diving reading”) and visio divina (“divine seeing”) are accessible to all. They do not demand that you are a Scripture expert coming to the Word with a perfect understanding of its context and content. They simply require you to be open to hearing what God is communicating to you through the Word.

Lectio Divina is a way of slowing down, reading and reflecting on Scripture, and allowing the Holy Spirit to deepen one’s awareness of God through the Word.

Visio Divina builds upon the ancient prayer practice of lectio divina, using both text and art to facilitate one’s encounter with the living Word of God.

Both lectio divina and visio divina can be adapted to the time you choose to set aside for it. When you are just beginning to develop a prayer routine, do not overwhelm yourself. Start by devoting a small amount of time such as 5-10 minutes on a regular basis. As your practice deepens, you may spend 10-30 minutes doing a more sustained reflection.

The following document outlines the six movements of visio divina.
Listening, Meditating, Seeing, Praying, Contemplating, and Becoming Christ-like
Download it here Visio-Divina-Movements.pdf (346 downloads) 6 steps

There are a variety of ways to pray with the Illuminations from The Saint John’s Bible.

  1. Reflection Guides
    Seeing the Word offers Reflection Guides for 21 Illuminations from The Saint John’s Bible. The following Guide to Individual Meditation was developed by Barbara Sutton to help individuals pray with these Reflection Guides.
    Download it here: Individual-Meditation-Guide.pdf (295 downloads)

IMG NBW

  1. The Saint John’s Bible Table Top Books
    These books are great to have at home!  You can choose any part of the Biblical text and practice lectio divina. You can also practice visio divina as you gaze upon the illumination of your choosing.
  2. The Seeing the Word Blog
    Several of the illuminations from The Saint John’s Bible are accessible on this blog. If you click on Browse Reflections by Illuminations you will see a variety of illuminations that you can pray with on your computer. These illuminations also have either an audio or written reflections for you to use in prayer.

Illuminating the Bible: A Book for the Family

Making The Saint John’s Bible a Part of Your Home
National Bible Week 2015

“National Bible Week provides a unique opportunity for parents to revisit and renew their understanding of the power of the Word of God in the life of their family. As leaders of the ‘domestic Church,’ parents are encouraged to be not only the first but the best of teachers for their children in the ways of faith.” -USCCB

GenealogyOfJesus1

Genealogy of Jesus, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A REFLECTION ON THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS

As Christian parents who are raising children, some of us have internalized a certain standard that says holiness is being like the Holy Family. We get hung up on the word “holy” thinking it is quite unattainable. We might even think to ourselves “how could ‘holy’ possibly be in the same sentence as the word ‘family’?” Pope Francis, who is greatly in tune with the reality of daily life, spoke on this matter at the World Meeting of Families in September. He said, “Families have difficulties. In families we quarrel. Sometimes, plates can fly. Children cause headaches. . . But, in families, there is always light.” Despite all the struggles and difficulties families endure, love is what binds families together and brings hope to overcome any obstacle. The path to holiness is messy, but there is always gold scattered amongst the chaos.

GenealogyOfJesusNames

When we examine this illumination, Genealogy of Jesus, we see the written names of those in Jesus’ lineage. We are familiar with many of these individuals through their stories, which are written in the Old Testament. Further, we are quite aware of the brokenness of these individuals, of their sinfulness. Our own stories are woven into theirs. The lineage of the Holy Family is no exception to the messy reality of all families we know today. Yet, this is how God chose to enter the world; the Father sent Jesus into a family. As Pope Francis says, “He could do this, because it was a family that had a truly open heart. The doors of their heart opened.” This is all that God asks of us, to open ourselves to receive him into our hearts, into our homes, and allow him to dwell there with us. His presence will transform our families. God’s love will meet us in our current situation and give us the grace we need to carry on with our lives.

GenealogyOfJesusZoom2

Around the menorah and throughout the illumination, we see a double helix. This spiral shape reminds us to take seriously Jesus’ incarnation. Noting that the DNA is gold in certain areas, we call to mind how Jesus extends an invitation to all peoples to participate in his divinity. To this point, Pope Francis exclaims, “Families have a citizenship which is divine. The identity card that they have is given to them by God. So that within the heart of the family, truth, goodness and beauty can truly grow.”

This week, during National Bible Week, I encourage you to open your hearts more fully to God. Invite God to dwell within your home, within your family. There is nothing that will delight him more. Make the first gesture, take your Bible off the shelf and dive into the Word of God.

 


Rachel Gabelman is a Master of Divinity candidate at Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary. She serves as a graduate assistant with Seeing the Word.


 

Illuminating the Mission: Day Seven • Page Seven

Pentecost Illumination

Credit: Pentecost, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002,The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A Reflection on Pentecost (Acts 1:6-11, 2:1-47)
Rachel Gabelman, M.Div. Candidate

This illumination of Pentecost elicits a heightened sense of vitality. Notice the sharp tongues of fire that starkly contrast the free-flowing brushstrokes. To gaze upon the prominent gold band, which breaks through the cool colors in the atmosphere, is unsettling. This visual representation mimics how startling it can be when the Spirit enters into our hearts, dynamically transforming us, bestowing his creative energy upon us, and sending us out to evangelize all peoples. It is neither an easy nor predictable endeavor, but when we partner with the Spirit, we will be “amazed and astonished” (Acts 2:7) at what is possible. As Christians, we must always refer back to the moments of personal conversion in our lives so that our willingness to evangelize does not become stagnant. We must trust that the Spirit will give us the ability to draw others into the richness and fullness of human life and promote the restoration of peoples in unity with one another and with God.

Pope Francis teaches in Evangelii Gaudium that the Church grows through attraction when Christians “appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet” (15). He furthers his point when he exclaims that Christians must not appear to have just returned from a funeral (10). Perhaps instead we can imagine proclaiming the Good News to others utilizing the enthusiasm and vigor that we often witness in sports fans. In this illumination we see fans raising their arms and waving their flags at a St. John’s University football game. Parallel to the way that the fans’ enthusiasm is contagious, our spirited fervor for Christ increases the fervor in the lives of those around us. The Good News is not ancient history; it is alive and personal as well as communal. What experiences from your life and journey in faith can you recollect and renew so that all who encounter you will witness the glory and splendor of the Risen Lord?

 


Rachel Gabelman is a candidate for the Master of Divinity degree at the School of Theology and Seminary at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN. She serves as the Graduate Assistant for the Seeing the Word project.