Envision Benedictine "conversatio morum" though Visio Divina (Divine Seeing)

This is the fourth of 6 Visio Divina Meditations, as an alternative to New Years Resolutions.

Professed Benedictine monastics formally promise to uphold a 3-fold commitment to listening (obedience), stability, and fidelity (conversatio morum) while living within their communities. Oblates (lay associates) strive to apply these principles while living “in the world” outside the monastery. We believe all can benefit from incorporating the timeless wisdom of The Rule of Benedict into their lives.

The Benedictine Promise of Fidelity to Growth (conversatio morum)

“Conversatio” Fiber Art by Pat Picket

Conversatio Morum, Brother Ignacio Gonzales writes, “is an act of the will that says, ‘I want my life to change’. . . [I want to go ever] deeper in my prayer life so that I might grow more open to my true self.” It is, essentially, a commitment to the ongoing process of transformation that leads to increasing wisdom, with an increased capacity to love God, ourselves, and others as ourselves.
About this piece, the artist writes: Conversatio sparked the desire to turn around, to turn, to turn around, to turn, to return, to turn and turn again. So, while it starts out small, it could eventually become a consuming fire that doesn’t burn but sets one clearly in the heart of God – more and more as one turns. There have been times when I have turned away from God. I didn’t want any part of God. I believed God wasn’t fair, wasn’t as loving as everyone said. Then, there were times I just wanted to do what I wanted to do. It was that spark, that little fire that never went out that kept luring me back, luring me to turn to God again . . . Conversatio is orange and red and fuchsia. Conversatio is all the colors of fire. There are golds and dark plum. There is orange and goldenrod. But Conversatio happens in purple. Purple is quiet and can keep a secret. Purple is the darkness of the womb. Purple is royal and a place fitting for the most intimate confession.

How to Practice Visio Divina

Close your eyes and clear your mind.

Open your eyes and “read” the whole image. Close your eyes and rest.

Meditate on the image, let your eyes be drawn to one part of the image. Name this part.

Close your eyes and see that part of the image in your mind.

Open your eyes and look at that part of the image; notice your response — a word, another image, an emotion.

Close your eyes and rest.

Open your eyes and look at the whole image. What is speaking to you? How will you respond to this?

Fiber Art Wall Hangings by Pat Picket are located at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Photos by Tracy Rittmueller with permission to publish on this blog.

Envision a self-story in which you value lifelong spiritual growth

Using Timothy Wilson’s story-editing technique from his book Redirect.

You might journal about why change and growth are challenging or why you resist changes that will lead to spiritual growth. Are you afraid of God? Angry? Do you worry about what you will have to give up in order to be closer to God? Do you think God doesn’t want a relationship with you? Why and how is a commitment to lifelong growth in God difficult for you?

See yourself as a person who believes in the value of a deeper relationship with God. Consider, and perhaps journal, about why it is good to seek God, to spend time in God’s presence, to trust in the process of spiritual growth. Consider how wisdom increases with experience and age. Think and/or write about yourself as a person who is, or could be, growing in wisdom and in the ability to show love.

Ask God to help you grow in wisdom and become more loving.

Now relax and let your growth in wisdom and love happen organically over time, by the opportunities and graces given to you, trusting that increasing wisdom and love will also grow peace in your heart, your life and the lives of those around you. May your spiritual growth  bring more peace to our world.


The artist, Pat Picket, has earned Master of Divinity and Divinity of Ministry degrees from Colgate Rochester Divinity School, a Master of Religious Education degree from University of San Diego, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Metro State Denver. She is also an oblate of Saint Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota.