How To Bible Journal Using The Catholic Study Bible

Updated to say: This post was written before an actually Catholic bible journal existed, however, it’s still useful information about turning a study bible that you already have into a journaling bible! 

Where To Purchase A Catholic Journaling Bible

Check out purchasable Catholic journaling bibles here

Bible Journaling has been rising in popularity, and for any of you who follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been bitten by the Bible Journaling bug!

catholic bible journaling

I’ve always made little doodles around… well, pretty much any piece of paper that’s ever sat in front of me, including in past bibles, so taking that a step farther in an intentional direction sounded amazing for me. I’ve always found that sketching and drawing things helps me think and ponder on them, so what a better place to do this than in an actual Bible? (Read here about Bible Journaling as Lectio Divina)

Up to now, the only problem with Bible Journaling is that there’s no “notetaker’s bible” for Catholics. Or rather, there is one, but it’s out of print and costs $120-$200 used! This is the one I’ve been using (pics above) but I’ve been searching the internet and racking my brain to come up with an affordable solution for my readers, and finally it hit me- using the Catholic Study Bible!

catholic bible journaling- a bible option

Here’s the deal- The Catholic Study Bible has notes at the bottom of the pages. The amount of notes for each page varies, but the vast majority of the pages have at least a few inches of notes, and many of them have 1/3 to 1/2 of the page covered in notes- especially in the Gospels.

catholic study bible- notes section

A lot of pages also have maps, charts, etc. All of this is space that you can use for bible journaling without covering up any of the Sacred Scripture! ๐Ÿ™‚

catholic study bible- space for bible journaling

How To Bible Journal With The Catholic Study Bible

Option Number 1: Cover the notes section with half-page label stickers

You can get label stickers here. Just cut them the right size for the page you’re working on, stick them on, and you’re ready to journal!

Cut your white label sticker the size of the footnotes…

bible journaling without a journaling bible- covering the notes with label stickers

Peel and stick over the notes. That’s it! You’re ready to journal ๐Ÿ™‚

bible journaling without a journaling bible- cover the notes with a sticker

Option Number 2: Using paper over the notes- either paste it down or make a flap

This is a pretty straight-forward option. Glue white paper over the existing notes at the bottom of the page and then Bible Journal your little heart out. I recommend an Elmer’s brand glue stick for this- other glue sticks peel over time and liquid glue will wrinkle the page. This is the method I used on the Trinity page I have as an example here.

catholic bible journaling in catholic study bible

Here’s an example of making a flap over the notes- this way they’re still readable! ๐Ÿ™‚ Just hold your flap on with washi tape. It’s not super sticky, so it’s repositionable and removable (if desired) or it totally stays in place if you don’t peel it up.

catholic bible journaling- i am the vine you are the branches

catholic bible journaling- lift the flap

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Pasting over the notes also creates new options, such as printing something existing to put on the page (like old artwork, something cute you found online, a prayer card, etc).

catholic bible journaling- prayer cards

Pros and Cons of pasting paper over the existing notes:

  • Gluing paper in your bible is going to make for extra bulk, eventually causing your bible to bulge. However, there are lots of bible journalers that utilize paper, tabs, stickers, etc in their bibles that also cause extra bulge. So this problem isn’t actually specific to this bible.
  • For this method, you don’t even have to have your bible with you to journal! Just doodle on whatever you have lying around, and you can glue it in later. You can even use existing artwork that you may have already created.
  • This is a pretty simple method, not requiring a lot of effort or extra supplies to accomplish.
  • You can create your art either before or after gluing it into the bible.
  • You can have your kids create art for the Bible by providing them the right size piece of paper, and letting them create. If it turns out really bad or has lots of mistakes, you don’t have to glue it in- you can start over! No stress for mess ups! ๐Ÿ™‚

catholic bible journaling- affordable catholic option

Option Number 3: Painting over the existing notes: 

Your other option is to paint over the notes with white gesso or white paint, then journal over it. You can read about using gesso here. I did try this process using a cheap white acrylic paint from Wal-Mart (the Apple Barrel brand) and it worked just fine because that paint tends to have a somewhat chalky finish. It would not work to use a higher quality acrylic paint that has a glossy finish. I also tried a page with white gesso, and I honestly prefered the texture of the white paint. Also, the paint seemed to cover better.

I was initially concerned that using gesso felt cumbersome/overboard, but then I found out that many bible journalists prime their entire page with clear gesso before beginning anyway. This readies their paper and keeps their artwork from bleeding through to the next page. Once your gesso dries, you’re ready to journal with your favorite supplies. (You can see examples of different mediums used on top of gesso here)

How to paint over the bible notes:

Start by placing a clear page protector or a freezer bag behind the page.

catholic study bible- bible journaling in it- prepare the page

Use a wide brush to apply the paint to the page. Do one thin coat with long even strokes. The first coat won’t cover completely, and that’s ok. Resist the urge to make 1 thick coat.

catholic study bible- how to journal with it

Dry with a hairdryer, then apply 1 more thin layer. This will cover the words completely, giving you a nice white surface to create on. If the page is wrinklier than you would like, you can iron it smooth before starting your art on it. Just place a scrap piece of paper on top of the page, and press flat with the iron. Do not use steam.

catholic study bible- how to journal in it

Here is what I created on this page, using gelatos, colored pencils, and a black marker.

catholic bible journaling- a catholic bible

Pros and Cons of painting over the existing notes:

  • This process is a little more time consuming, and requires more specialized supplies.
  • This adds less bulk to your bible than pasting in another whole sheet of paper, and makes for a more natural, less stiff page.
  • The gesso does keep your work from bleeding through to the next page.
  • There is no “edge” around your work (like the one that happens when you glue another piece of paper in.)
  • Overall, this method fells and looks more professional.

So there you have it- The Catholic Study Bible is great for Bible Journaling. I’m so happy for Catholics to finally have a serious option for this! In the picture below, you can see the expensive Notetaker’s RSV Bible on top, and the easily bought and found NAB Catholic Study Bible on the bottom.

catholic bible journaling options

I honestly wish I would have figured this out before purchasing the other one. ๐Ÿ˜›

Find all of my Catholic Bible Journaling Resources here.


  1. God_Is_Good says

    Did you ever try asking the publisher to print a version without the notes?

    • Well, yes… I do have some connections in the Catholic publishing world. I know they’ve already been requested from others. Maybe it would mean more coming from me? I’m not sure. I think they know the demand is there.

    • I’m so disappointed. I thought you really found one for Catholics that was made for this. I use those notes on my study. Some are very useful. Covering them in any way is not an option for me.

      • Journaling bibles never come with foot notes- just empty margins. You can’t have it both ways because there is not room.

        • Bernadette says

          You can glue on one side. I use the notes but used to write more notes on stickie notes. Just a thought.

  2. Thank you for this! I am a scrapbooker and have seen bible journaling become big. There are even some really beautiful products that have come out for this purpose. I had looked around a bit for a Catholic journaling bible, but came up empty handed. Thanks for the solution!!

  3. Emily Davis says

    Hey Lacy,
    I didn’t know you were into Bible Journaling. HOW FUN!
    I started a Bible Journal Group for Catholics (on FaceBook) and am working with a Catholic Publisher to create a Catholic Journaling Bible.
    I’m hopeful. But it’s one of those things that – you just NEVER know if it is going to happen.
    For now, I will stick with my journal and rewriting key verses. I just can’t paint over the notes… Need them. lol
    But I love what you have done and the options you have given people.
    Here is the FB Group. I will post your link in it.

    • Just joined- waiting for approval! Yay to finding a Catholic Bible Journaling community! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Monica @ Equipping Catholic Families says

    Hi Lacy…I’ve been eye-ing all the Bible Journaling posts and Bible Journals available online. I’ve got an NAB I’m thinking of painting over the notes. It just seems like a lot of work, but maybe it dries relatively fast?
    I think I read in an earlier post that you purchased the Inspire Bible for your daughter? is it AWESOME…except not the right translation? I’m wondering if I’m going to rewrite verses anyway…if I’d take the time time and effort to copy from my Catholic Bible, but take advantage of all the glorious journaling space =) of the Inspire Bible…It’s probably missing those Catholic books though, right? Would LOVE a Catholic Journaling Bible…I’ll be watching for it, Emily Davis =)

    • Emily Davis says

      I took a class on Bible Journaling at Lifeway Christian Store.
      She advised us to use GESSO. It’s clear and you lightly cover a page you want to paint on so that the paint or Marker doesn’t bleed through.
      I took a break during Lent. It is a lot of work.

      • Gesso can also come in white rather than clear, and that’s what I’m suggesting covering the notes with. You certainly wouldn’t want to cover the entire page with the white stuff- just the clear kind. I bible journal all the time with out clear gesso- I find it unnecessary.

    • I know- I wish there was one! The pasting was certainly less work than the painting. I like to curl up in my arm chair with colored pencils to work, so for my method, the paint would be a complication unless painted over earlier that day. I’d probably paste if this is the method I was going for.

  5. I love it!! I contacted the Catholic company to see if they’d ever carry one.. And they are working with publishers right now!! I hope it comes out soon..but until it does this works! Thanks!

  6. What kinds of things do you put in your journal?It sounds like a neat idea, but I’m not sure what I would write, other than thoughts that come to me as I’m reading.

  7. Ileana Wade says

    I love the idea of bible journaling-had not heard of it. As an option for those covering notes with white paper, what about only gluing down along the top or side of the white paper so you can journal, but lift it up like a flap so you can still see the printed notes, maps, etc? I’m gonna go ding my study bible…

    • LOVE this idea!!!

      • Benita Borrowman says

        I sometimes add vellum or old hymn book paper into my Bible and just glue it into the binding. It gives you more room. It does add bulk eventually but the pages are thin. I also add flaps or stickee notes you can see under as only one edge is glued down.

  8. What a great idea! I’ve never heard of bible journaling before. With regards to covering up the notes on a study bible, you could glue down just to top or side of the white paper over the notes and then the paper would be like a flap that you can lift up so you can still see the notes. I have to go find my study bible now…

  9. You bible notes are beautiful. I have the Didache Bible (and the same tabs as your bottom Bible) but I don’t think I’d want to cover the notes. The Didache takes most of their notes from the CCC, so I feel like I’m getting a lot of really great info! But I would love to do more than just highlight. Sigh. This is the furthest I’ve gotten in the “read the Bible in a year” effort, so maybe next year when I’ve really nailed it I’ll try and add something else like journaling. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Meghan MacInnis says

    These 1/2 sheet labels would also work too for the lazier among us…

  11. So you just paint right on with the white acrylic with no clear gesso underneath, right? Thanks so much for this. I have wanted to journal but don’t like TOO much bulkiness with paper but then there was no Bible with nice margins. Love that you shared a solution!!

  12. Dear Lacy,

    I seriously need to start spending more time with the Scripture and being in love with art, your accidentally-stumbled-upon-post is ringing bells all over with me. You’ve managed to cover things so thoroughly, I only have one question for you, and it’s a bit odd: Do you happen to have a link to a post or a recommendation for a guideline to how to make a cover for a Bible like your beautiful hand-made patchwork cover? I’m in love with it. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Love and Blessings from Munich, Germany

  13. Well done! I honestly think this is brilliant!

  14. karen simmons says

    I see all the tabs. Did they come with the Study Bible or did you add them. I found the study Bible on Amazon but it does not show the tabs.

  15. Lori Turner says

    Hi, I just started gathering supplies to start bible journaling, so as a Catholic I was thrilled to find this article! Can’t wait to get started! Thanks and God bless!

  16. Lori Turner says

    One other question: is the NRSV Notetaker’s Bible a Catholic version or a Protestant one with the Apocrypha added? Thanks so much!

  17. Lori Turner says

    Just ordered the NRSV Notetakers Bible, managed to find it for about $70 online; a lot of money but I am hoping to make into an heirloom/family bible to pass along. Can’t wait to get started!

  18. M. Theresa Castillo says

    Found your article thru Pinterest. As a Catholic, I see bible journaling with a NAB translation is STILL a struggle! UGH! Why is it taking the publishers so long? I SUPER fell in love with the Beautiful Word Bible Journaling Large Print and I’ve inquired with the publisher Zordervan to please make a NAB translation. In the meantime, I’m glad I have all your awesome ideas ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you!

  19. This one is coming out soon. Excited!

  20. For those of you that have already been journaling, do you prefer hardcover or softcover? For easy transport and less bulk I have been searching for softcover but all I found is the one above that isn’t due out until after Christmas. My daughter wants this as her main gift so I’m stumped on what to do. There are Catholic options that offer journaling for the Old Test only or the New Test only but I know she wants a lifetime bible that includes both. Thanks for your help!

  21. DarleneGoesGreen says

    Love this! I have always admired the creativity and beauty of Bible Journaling but didn’t want to leave my Catholic Study Bible. I hope I can carve out some extra time and pull out my colored pencils! BUT, I think I will try making some of my artwork first then adding it in with clear tape since I value the study notes too. Thanks for the awesome post!

  22. Ritagail Burleson says

    Thank you!
    I have looked at the newer print journal Bibles and I don’t want to pay the price for someone else’s art. So, I did a search, think it was “turn old Bibles into journal Bibles” or something like that. Anyway, yours popped up in the results. Love the ideas because I have an old Bible with a bit of margin and I think I’m going to try your “flap” suggestion. Blessings to you and your family!

  23. Doreen Pena says

    There is one now available. I think it’s called INSPIRE Journaling for Catholics. I am. A Catholic but I’m using NIV version to draw and paint since 2017. If I’m done with all pages I’ll buy the Catholic one because NIV version doesn’t have the book of Sirach