First ‘Catholic Journaling Bible’ invites creativity as it deepens user’s prayer life
By Katie Bogner
In centuries past, quiet scriptoriums were once filled with monks diligently copying by hand the Books of Sacred Scripture. The scribes provided texts long before the time of printing presses and would spend years making these invaluable copies.
At times, it wasn’t just text that was the work of their hands. These same monks would fill the margins of the new Bibles with intricate large initials, delicate and detailed borders, and illustrations of the stories within. The use of gold gilding on such pages is the origin of naming these beautiful texts “Illuminated.” Illuminated Bibles are not only historically significant to believers, but also to the world of art.
Those monastic scribes, who dedicated years to their singular work, knew that the creative process was not just an afterthought, but was an opportunity for continued prayer both for themselves and for the reader. As we are made in the image of the Creator of the Universe, finding ways to express ourselves through creativity is built into our very nature. Illuminated Bibles might seem to be a thing of the past, but the modern publication of journaling Bibles brings the opportunity for creativity and prayer right into our living rooms.
SPACE FOR NOTES, PRAYERS, ART
The first journaling Bible in an approved Catholic translation is a long-awaited gift to those who seek to deepen their relationship with Sacred Scripture through beauty and creativity.
Designed by Blessed is She and published by Our Sunday Visitor, the Catholic Journaling Bible features the full text of Scripture in the New American Bible Revised Edition translation and complete footnotes, as well as a two-inch margin on each page. That wide margin format lends itself as a tool to make the Word of God more present in your life. The extra space gives the reader room to add notes from Bible studies, cross references, prayers, and personal reflections.
Those margins can also be used for creative pursuits such as lettering a favorite verse, drawing illustrations of the stories, or adding colorful decorations. The Bible even offers its own dose of beauty with a simple hand lettered verse printed on one page in each Book.
MAKE THE BIBLE YOUR OWN
While I understand possible hesitation to writing in a Bible, using the Catholic Journaling Bible can alleviate some worries. While still treating Scripture with the utmost respect, the wide margins allow space for the reader to make their Bible their own, recording conversations with God, the fruit of prayer and study, and eventually creating a Bible that is worn in and well loved without ever covering over the actual text.
Various materials can be used inside the Catholic Journaling Bible, ranging from regular pencils and pens, to fancier gel pens or brush tip pens, as well as watercolor paints, colored pencils, stamps, stickers, and markers. Each tool has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it is a good idea to test the material to check for any bleeding, smearing, or ghosting (showing through to the reverse page). Remember, no artistic talent is required, as this is the opportunity for any kind of pen-to-page prayer.
Keep in mind that any Bible can lend itself to journaling with some adaptations. Sticky notes are a great place to write out knowledge gained from Bible studies, and full sheets of paper can be taped in to add art or longer prayers. Colorful washi tape is a fun way to stick in favorite holy cards, or a separate journal can be used alongside a Bible for the same purposes.
Investing in the Catholic Journaling Bible as a tool for illuminating your own prayer life can help you richly experience God’s Word in a new way. If you are interested in more details, ideas, and recommendations related to Bible journaling, feel free to check out the Bible Study tag on my blog, looktohimandberadiant.com or search the tag #catholicjournalingbible on social media.
KATIE BOGNER is the junior high faith formation teacher at St. Philomena School in Peoria and a member of The Catholic Post’s new six-member book review team.