Why Icon not Painting?
Initially it was difficult to comprehend fully why God the Father both requested and emphasized that an icon be made of His Divine Heart Encompassing All Hearts (Apostolate of the Divine Heart, 2011), rather than a religious painting. Specifically, a diptych icon that would be both faithful to the theophanic corporeal vision (Augustine of Hippo, 401-415; Aumann, 1989; Burtchaell, 2003; Tanquerey, 1947/2001) He had provided, together with the consecration prayer and titles He had dictated (Apostolate of the Divine Heart, 2011); and written out in the Russian-Byzantine style of iconography.
Especially since (1) icons have traditionally been a central veneration feature in the Eastern Church (both Orthodox and Catholic/Eastern Rites), rather than in the Western Church (Roman Catholic/Latin Rite), where religious paintings predominate as sacred art. (2) The request was made of two practicing Roman Catholics born, bred, raised, and living in the Western world. And (3) depicting the ‘figure’ of God the Father is generally frowned upon, if not outrightly proscripted, in the Eastern Church – particularly in the Orthodox Church (Bingham, 1995; Ouspensky, 1992) – subsequent to the conclusions of the Orthodox synods, especially the Great Council of Moscow (1666-1667) and the Council of Constantinople held in 1780. Such prohibitions had arisen from the understanding that as the Father both was and remained pure spirit, that is He did not become incarnate like His Son, He could not possibly be depicted because He cannot be circumscribed (Bingham, 1995; John of Damascus, 8th century/1980, Ouspensky, 1992).
However, another message from God the Father (unpublished communication, 9/15/2011) has made clear His reason for requesting that an icon be made of His Divine Heart, and not simply a painting. A reason that, upon critical examination, will be shown to be fully supported by the empirical evidence to date, in terms of Scripture, Tradition, and the theology of the universal Church.
- Apostolate of the Divine Heart. (2011). Devotion to the Divine Heart of God the Father. MA: Author.
- Augustine of Hippo. (401-415). Corporeal vision. De genesi ad litteram, 12.
- Aumann, J. (1989). Corporeal vision. In Spiritual theology. Manila: University of Santo Tomas.
- Bingham, S. (1995). The image of God the Father in Orthodox theology and iconography and other studies. CA: Oakwood Publications.
- Burtchaell, J. T. (2003). Theophany. New Catholic Encyclopedia (2nd ed.), 13:929.
- The Great Council of Moscow. (1666-1667). The Tome of the Great Council of Moscow (L. Puhalo, trans.). Canadian Orthodox Missionary Journal.
- John of Damascus. (8th century/1980). On the divine images (D. Anderson, trans.). NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press.
- Ouspensky, L. (1992). Theology of the icon (rev. trans.). NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press.
- Tanquerey, A. (1947/2001). Corporeal vision. In The spiritual life: A treatise on ascetical and mystical theology (2nd ed.). NC: Tan Books.