Picture of the diptych icon of the Divine Heart of God the Father visiting and being venerated in the humble abode of a Latino family in the United States of America. Also present are a relic of the True Cross of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and relics of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the apostles.
The theophanic ministry of the icon (as different from a religious painting) leads to the restoration and return of souls to their Creator and Father not just by its intrinsic beauty, which both leads in a mysterious manner to and transmits the beauty of Him Who is Other, but by drawing souls beyond the pale of this earthly plane to that of the heavenly plane through its epiphanic presence and direct participation in the divine light; the energeia of God. The icon is neither a sacrament as considered by some in the Eastern Church, nor is it just a sacramental as understood by the vast majority in the Western Church. The icon lies at the intersection of both, showing characteristics of sacraments and sacramentals, yet never attaining to the fullness of the former, while having more than the fullness of the latter. It is thus that the icon has been granted by God a unique place in the history and function of the liturgy, as well as the history of the salvation and deification of humankind.
What are icons? Icons are sacramental avenues of divine grace that struggle in our times both for the Church and for the faith, in a similar, albeit inverse, manner to when the Church struggled for the icon during the major periods of iconoclasm in the history of Christianity. It is the icon that will bring forth, once more, the bloom of the incomparable beauty and love of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the eye, heart, mind and soul of humankind. This it will achieve by removing, through its ascetic beauty and embodied grace, the blindness of the spirit – the shuttered and darkened nous – that so characterizes human persons in our present times.
The symbolic language of the icon is “incomprehensible to the sated flesh, to the heart full of longings for material things. But it becomes the very fabric of life when these longings collapse and an abyss opens at our feet. Then we need a firm foothold at the edge of the abyss, we need to feel the motionless calm of the icon above our tribulations. And the joyous vision of a sobor, a church of all creation above the bloody chaos of our existence becomes as necessary as our daily bread. We need (more…)
“At all levels – the artistic, the spiritual, the political and the domestic – icons reveal a profound concern for the integration and inter-relationship of the spiritual and the material, the sacred and the secular” (J. Baggley, 1987, Doors of Perception).
“The wider significance of the events portrayed [in the icon] has to be worked out in the soul of those who behold the icon; what the icon represents may have been manifested at a precise point in time and space, but its fuller significance is found in the inner world where the true work of purification, illumination and union have to be accomplished” (Fr. John Baggley, 1987, Doors of perception: Icons and their spiritual significance, p. 82).
More about why it was an icon, not a painting, that was requested by God the Father for consecration and veneration can be found here.
“The veneration of icons by the Church is like a lantern and the light from it has never been extinguished. It will continue to burn, as it has in the past; but its is not motionless . . . And even when all that is hostile to the icon strives to extinguish its light, covering it in a shroud of darkness, the lantern does not run dry and cannot run dry. And if, through loss of piety and devotion, the ability to paint icons should ever fade, even then the light will live on, ever ready to reappear in all its power to renew us through the victory of Christ’s Transfiguration” (Fr. Gregory Krug, Thoughts on the icon).
Why have we been given the icon of the Divine Heart of God the Father – an icon of a heart and Person generally invisible in nature, in comparison to the incarnate Son of God who visibly took on our humanity? Because “visible things in so far as they represent invisible things without shape so that in giving the visible things a physical shape, we can have a veiled knowledge of them . . . the mystery of the Trinity is reflected in the sun, its light and its rays” (Egon Sendler, 1988, The Icon: Image of the Invisible, p. 80).
When illumination occurs, it is the heart, the eye, of our souls, or as some call it the “eye of the heart,’ that is reopened to see the inner principles – logoi – of things, including spiritual realities. The heart of the soul, the nous, is also the place in which God our Father descends to live with His presence when He so desires. This in-dwelling by the Father in the reopened heart of our souls is the coming of (more…)
Have a look at Created Beauty, the new website for the icons I finally let myself be persuaded to start writing and showing. To the left you can see a snapshot of it with the icons I have written so far. I set up a different site for these icons so that they could remain separate. I named the site Created Beautybecause icons are created windows that open unto Him who is Uncreated Beauty – the Divine Light; our beautiful and unparalleled Almighty Father.
Just completed a small, portable icon (right) of our Almighty Father. Dimensions are 20cm x 30cm. Materials are wood with linen and natural gesso, 23.5 kt gold leaf and natural egg tempera. I originally intended to paint this icon for myself. But while scoring the drawing, applying the roskrysh and first highlights, the icon was so liked that it will now be in the private possession of an interfaith family. This icon of God the Father was blessed on the feastday of the Presentation of the Child Mary in the Temple (2013).
You work wonders through created things, O Lord, while men have lost the gift of wonder working. You take fire and water for Your servants, while people refuse to serve You. To wood and metal You give Your power, while it is returned to You, despised by people. Through earth and grass You bestow mercy on Your chosen ones, while people make themselves too impure to (more…)