By Matthia Langone

Week 2: Lenten Reflections – You gaze upon the icon…

March 4, 2021
Column: Way of the Icon

This week I invite you to quietly look deeper…

After my first and surprising experience of icons in Russia, the next experience was also amazing and drew me even closer to an understanding of the Icon.

It is by entering into the process that one draws more closely to the icon subject, regardless of whether that subject is angel or saint, the Christ image is hidden within.

When you begin to write an icon the subject of the icon “draws” you in.

As this takes place, the technique of the iconographer—as well as the experience by the viewer later—takes on both a practical and a spiritual, step-by-step journey which inadvertently draws us to the hidden image of the Christ.

Each icon invites us into this intimate journey.

Remember that the underlying subject, the heart of whatever icon upon which you gaze, is ultimately the Christ.

I invite you now to briefly begin this journey at least in thought; a first step on this beautiful road to union with the Christ, the Icon of God!

As Master iconographer and teacher Vladislav Andrejev would say: “You write the icon and after two or three workshops, the icon begins to write you.”

This is deep and I invite you to look deeper as well.

A careful and meditative kind of looking at the icon and the process of creating one can take you on a journey toward union with the Divine.

“…the divine image is present in every man… It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the unity of the divine persons among themselves…” -Catechism of the Catholic Church

So let us begin with this image for our maiden journey so to speak into the high seas with the hope of encountering the Face of Christ anew in our souls as well as in encounters with others, not only in painted images but in fleshly images as well.

As you look, consider the words of St John of Kronstadt below:

You gaze upon the icon of the Saviour and see that he looks at you from it with brightest eyes: This look is the image of how He actually looks upon you with His eyes, that are brighter than the sun, and sees all your thoughts, hears all your heartfelt distress and sighs.

The image is an image, and represents in lines and signs that which cannot be delineated, cannot be given in signs, and can be comprehended by faith alone.

Believe, then, that Saviour always protects you and sees each one of you—with all your thoughts, sorrows and sighing, in all your circumstances, as upon the palm of the hand…

Therefore pray before the icon of the Saviour as before Himself.

The Lover of man is present in it by His grace, and with the eyes depicted in it really looks at you… while with his ears as represented on the icon, He hears you.

But remember that his eyes are the eyes of God, and his ears are the ears of the omnipresent God.

—St. John of Kronstadt


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Matthia Langone, D. Min., is a Vancouver-based artist and iconographer whose work has been exhibited in Canada, Rome, Portugal, and in private collections. She also serves... MORE »

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