Praying with icons
“The Leisure Corner” through our social media continues throughout Lent as we take a closer look at different icons with David Clayton from Pontifex University.
Below are the 7 weeks of reflections and meditations inspired by David Clayton’s knowledge of iconography. If you missed our interview with David, watch it here.
If you would like to share the fruit of your prayer with us, please message us! We love hearing from you.
Today, as part of the series of artworks related to Lenten meditation, I thought that we might consider our sins and the future judgment before the throne of God when Christ returns in His glory. This is a painting of Christ who will be our just judge on the last day. The icon is painted in egg tempera, by yours truly, in a traditional iconographic style.
The Mandylion – now that I look at this it needs the name to be added in order to be worthy of veneration! There is always an aspect of sternness in the face to indicate that all our sins are seen by the judge. However, the intention here is not to scare us, but to emphasize how even given the seriousness of our sins, Christ is a just merciful judge. It is intended to encourage penitence and does so when viewed as part of the greater picture of sin and redemption. The moment we can acknowledge our sins and ask for mercy, we are forgiven and through participation in the sacramental economy, we can be in union with Him, entering into the mystery of the Trinity, partaking of the divine nature. This is the route to joy and encouragement on the path to this end is the whole purpose of Lent and then Easter.
At times when I am given to miserable scrupulosity and doubt the extent of God’s mercy, a reading (or even better a singing) of the joyous Psalm 135 (136) the ‘many mercies’ psalm, polyelios in Greek is helpful.
It opens with the line:
Oh, give thanks unto the Lord for he is gracious and his mercy endures forever…
Thereafter the refrain after every line is ‘his mercy endures forever.
The image is one of a number in which the face of the Risen Christ is imprinted on a cloth. which he had used to wash and dry his face. This miraculous image became known as the Mandylion (which translates in Byzantine Greek as ‘small cloth’ or ‘towel’). It is an Eastern variant of what in the West we call the Veronica Cloth. The name Veronica is derived from the Latin ‘verus icon’: true image!
Both are examples of a category of sacred art called in Greek acheiropoieta – not made by human hands. One of the most famous examples in the Western canon aside from the Veronica cloth is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.