{    Cnytr   }

{Monday, May 18, 2009  }

.:{Briefly on the Christ Icon and the Akathist to Sweetest Jesus}:.

Well ... after the dose below of what I sometimes like to call Hooah Catholicism, perhaps we ought to cleanse our palate a bit, and remind us of the sweeter aspects of our faith which we should love so diligently as to be as hard core as St. Simon Stylite, et ceteri.

A newer icon of Christ

Notice how an icon engages you. The icon of Christ looks out at you from the background of blessedness, looking at you in a way that is impossible to avoid. You must engage or ignore the image. And if we engage the icon, one's mind and heart is lifted in prayer and one's mind in contemplation, noticing Christ's hand raised in blessing and expressing the three-persons-one-God and two-natures of Christ. But even the fact that we can see Christ present in the icon reminds us of Christ's kenosis or self-emptying (of which our beloved Fulton Sheen speaks, and can be seen in four parts here, here, here and here), and as icons are Incarnational, we are reminded of our salvation, and also of how Christ is the perfect image (eikon) of the Father.

Icons are addressed in Liturgy. When in the Great Litany of the Divine Liturgy, the Deacon says, "...especially for our most holy, most pure, most blessed, and glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary," he bows to the icon of Mary on the iconostasis as he addresses her; when he says "...to Christ our God", he bows to the icon of Christ. Sometimes, he does both:

Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, [bow to the icon of Mary] with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God. [bow to the icon of Christ]

When the iconostasis is quite complete and wall-like (as in St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC) as opposed to a more humble and transparent iconostasis, this sometimes has the effect on Roman Catholics of Why is this deacon talking to a wall? Yet the effect is the same as Dominicans singing their nightly Salve, Regina to the priory's Marian statue, the only difference being that icons are the canonized art form of the Eastern Catholic churches. Whilst the Latin rite tends to have art that is more representational and three-dimensional (especially as much of it comes from "baptized" pagan art forms more prevalent in the West than in the East), the East has a more symbolic, two-dimensional and theological art form.

Furthermore, icons represent the timelessness of certain events, much in the same way that Fra Angelico often depicts saints of his time period in biblical events, such as at the Presentation, or at the Annunciation. In both of these images, he has St. Peter Martyr (aka St. Peter of Verona) present and praying, witnessing these events. Obviously he could not have been historically present, nor would Fra Angelico posit that the two were at all contemporaneous. Rather the effect is that these events, while occurring in time, are Eternal as their reality is Eternal. As the "Only Begotton" hymn of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom says, O Only-Begotten Son and Word of God, Who, being immortal, deigned for our salvation to become incarnate of the Holy Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary, and became man without change. Since these events are timeless, the saints in their blessedness are somehow present at these events, which Fra Angelico captures in his paintings, and which those looking upon the face of an icon recall.

From the Markov Monastery, an image of the Icon of our Lady as used during the Akathistos hymn...

... or as I like to think of it, an icon of an icon!

The icon, then, takes a prominent place during the Akathistos hymn. As you'll recall, I attended the great Akathis to the Mother of God on Akathistos Saturday (the Saturday after the Annunciation), blogged here. This evening I will be attending and praying the Akathist to our Sweetest Jesus. This was the first Akathist hymn I ever encountered in person (as opposed to the Great Akathist which I discovered via the Great Internets), and I posted clumsily on the topic when I stumbled across it during the Orientale Lumen IX conference.

For your spiritual edification, I am posting a small bit of it below. Enjoy.

Kontakion 10

Wishing to save the world, O Dayspring of the Orient, You came to the dark Occident of our nature and humbled Yourself even to death. Therefore, Your Name is exalted above every name, and from all created beings of Heaven and earth, You hear:

Eikos 10

Make Your holy Angels a rampart for us, O Christ, Father of the age to come, and cleanse us from every stain, as You cleansed the ten lepers; and heal us, as Your healed the covetous soul of Zacchaeus the publican, that we may cry to You with compunction and say:

Jesus, Treasure unfailing.
Jesus, Wealth inexpendable.
Jesus, Food most substantial.
Jesus, Drink inexhaustible.
Jesus, Raiment of the poor.
Jesus, Defender of widows.
Jesus, Protector of orphans.
Jesus, Champion of those in hardships.
Jesus, Companion of those who journey.
Jesus, Pilot of voyagers.
Jesus, Calm Haven of the tempest-tossed.
Jesus, raise me who am fallen.

Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me.
Kontakion 11

A most contrite hymn do I, the unworthy one, offer You, and like the Canaanite woman, I cry to You: O Jesus, have mercy on me! For not a daughter, but a flesh have I which is violently possessed by the passions and troubled with anger. Grant healing to me, who cries aloud to You:

posted by Lauren, 5:00 PM


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