I put down my colored pencils, blue and orange and green. There, I said to myself. Finished. A sense of contentment spread over me as I looked at the picture I had just finished coloring. Each page I took my colored pencils to, each image that prayerfully came to life under my hands, was another link bringing me closer to my mom almost 500 miles away. I tapped on the camera app on my phone, snapped a photo of my “masterpiece,” and emailed it to her.
My mom and I are coloring the same Catholic coloring book and we share our finished pages with each other via email.
Here at Pauline Books and Media, we have recently released a new coloring book: Scripture Illuminated: A Coloring Book for Prayer and Meditation. In her article below, Jeannette de Beauvoir brings to life the memories of the monks in the Middle Ages who “colored” or “illuminated” the manuscripts of the Word of God which they had copied by hand.
From the very beginning, illuminating the Scriptures was a relational activity. As the monks spent long hours prayerfully crafting each illumination, they held in prayer those who would be lifted in spirit and hope when they saw them. Each sometimes tiny masterpiece helped people experience the transformative power of God’s words in a personal way.
Coloring today can be a simple form of “illuminating” that anyone can do alone or with another. Just as this activity was a prayer experience for the ancient monks who copied manuscripts by hand, Scripture Illuminated teaches the one who is coloring how to pray with the words of God. As the Scriptures hold us, we hold those we love, entrusting each and every one to the God whose Word is faithful.
If you are looking for a refuge in today’s storms—whatever storms they may be—why not try “illuminating” the words of Jesus and reflecting on the promises which we can absolutely count on for ourselves and those we love. You might even want to start the practice with a friend, coloring and praying together across the miles.
Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP