Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Quest for Life

This lesson takes a piece of popular culture and uses it to show how youth can find the sacred in the secular.

Quest for Life

Enhancer of Joy

Creating Space


60 minutes

Lesson Developed by

Stephanie Paulsell and Vanessa Zoltan


Treating Secular Things As If They Were Sacred

Tips to Prepare

This lesson is very flexible. You can recite one quote again and again or screen a whole movie. Depending on who is there and what text you treat as sacred, prep for this lesson really varies.

Setting the Atmosphere

Best case scenario is to have chairs in a circle. Also, if you have a group of more than 5-10, you’ll want them to break up into small groups. Therefore chairs that are easily moved in ideal.

Other than that, you want a welcoming atmosphere. If you can be playing music that students like (pop-music is great here, like Beyonce’s Lemonade), do! But again, this lesson can be done in a small room with nothing but you. So do not let any lack of resources hold you back!


To engage with things that students already love not just as pop-culture, but as instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about their own lives. Let them see that sacred things are everywhere and teach them exegetical practices on things that are easy and exciting for them to engage in.


In this session, students will:

  • Learn about Lectio Divina, Florlegia and Ignatian Spirituality.
  • Learn that the sacred is all around if you look for it
  • Learn that art and the bible can always speak to you in your own life and where you are right now if you go looking for it.


Further Study

Ladder of Monks by: Guigo II (available online)


Printable resources are available at: harrypottersacredtext.com (available online)

Praying with Scripture By Douglas J. Leonhardt, (available online)


Gather (5 minutes)

  • Start with some sort of orienting ritual. Light a candle, say a line from a poem, raise a Hogwarts banner, say a prayer or ring a gong. It also doesn’t matter with. If this group gathers regularly, make it the same ritual every week. Make it short, but clear and comforting.
  • Them move in with personal sharing– if a small group, go around and check in. If larger, have people pair off. We do a basic, “roses and thorns” (share a high and a low from your week). We always say that it should be like yoga; push yourself but don’t hurt yourself, as far as vulnerability goes.


Engage (30 minutes)

  • Have someone recap the reading or movie (like the 30 second challenge). If it’s a lot (like 10 chapters of HP or a whole movie), then do a 3 minute recap. You can have two people do this in a light-hearted way
  • Do a spiritual practice, like Lectio Divina. Have someone pick a sentence from the text. Have them read it out loud.
  • Then ask them the four questions of lectio:

1) What is the intended meaning of the sentence?

2) What in this sentence reminds you of something in other stories?

3) What does this sentence say to you in your own life right now?

4) What is God calling you to do this week, in this sentence.

Do this practice broken up into small groups. (Groups of 2-4), but facilitate it for everyone. It should take about 20 minutes between talking in small groups and sharing out in a large group.

  • Do another spiritual practice like sacred imagination. For this practice, have everybody put their feet on the floor and close their eyes. Then read a lengthy (2-3 minutes) passage to the group (or play a song, etc.). Ask them to pay attention to what they hear, taste, smell, and feel if they imagine themselves into the scene. Then, have them journal (if pen and paper is available) about their experience or turn to a neighbor and describe the experience. Then have the whole group share out what they said. Then read the passage again and have them discuss how their experience of the chapter changed the second time around.


Reflect (15 minutes)

  • Have everyone offer a blessing to a character in the chapter, song or movie. What do you want to bless them for and what blessing does that remind you of in your life?

Send Forth

Send Forth (10 minutes)

  • Do a final ritual. We always read a non-HP poem to demonstrate that it is not just one text that you can treat as sacred. I think there’s an argument for having a new person bring something new each week, or having it be the same one every time.


Related Video Clips

Yale Youth Ministry Institute