Advent

Dear Fellow Iconographers:

Black Madonna Icon by Christine Hales
Black Madonna Icon by Christine Hales

December 2, we enter into that period of Advent that is so full of excitement and anticipation.  How appropriate that it comes for us in the Americas at a time of profound seasonal change- the end of summer and the beginning of winter.  Advent marks the end of all that we know belonging to the old Testament and the beginning of the  fulfillment  of the Old Testament prophesies with the birth of Christ, our Redeemer.

Advent is a journey into the heart of promise and fulfillment with the Birth of Christ.

We share the hope of the Archangel Gabriel and Mary and witness the incredible faith journey that began the earthly life of Jesus Christ.  Mary models for us the essence of spiritual preparedness, the willingness of a faith filled acceptance of God’s will manifesting in her life.  Her surety and preparedness for this miracle is again a model for us to develop such a surety and willingness for all that God has for us.

Annunciation Icon by Ohrid, 14th Century
Annunciation Icon by Ohrid, 14th Century

Byzantine Iconography and Advent

And there is a similarity between Byzantine Iconography and Advent.  Canon Edward West, in his article on Byzantine Religious Art said that  an Icon is “notably the reflection of something which exists, but in its own way, it conveys something which actually exists  and conveys it really….Byzantine religious art is concerned with conveying truth, witnessing to the truth, and indeed, making it possible for the sensitive and aware Christian to have some part in that truth…”.  The birth of Christ 2000 years ago allows us to be in the present tense with God today, to experience His love, protection and guidance.  One could also say that Icons share in that ability to bring us into God’s presence, as symbols of the incarnation.

Canon West, who was a noted Iconographer in addition to serving at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City for over forty years, goes on to say that  what makes an Icon important is, “that it is a meeting point of this continuum from the past with the vertical thrust of the Spirit of God at the right moment- in terms which the individual Christian can understand.  It is essential that we remember this attitude about Tradition.  The Byzantines were concerned in Witnessing to the Truth.” Madona and Child

Icons in 2019

May we all be blessed with Mary’s patience, devotion, and willingness to carry out God’s plan in the coming year.  May our Icons be bearers of God’s Grace and Presence as we move towards a world where Holy Scripture is made visual through the sacred imagery of Icons and made available to all those who seek Him.

Christine Simoneau Hales

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Advent

Dear Fellow Iconographers:

“Advent asks us to keep vigil for the Christ who comes to us anew in this season. It invites us to keep our face turned toward the horizon in hope. But Advent asks us also to open our hearts to the Christ who keeps vigil for us, the Christ who stands not on some distant horizon but, instead, is already with us, waiting for us to open our eyes to his presence that stays with us always.

As Advent begins, may you be blessed in your vigil: the one you keep, the one being kept for you. In that vigil, may you find your deepest welcome and know yourself at home. Peace.”

from “The Advent Door” by Jan Richardson.

The word Advent comes from the Latin, “Adventus” which means coming. It is the beginning of the Liturgical year and is a time of preparation, looking forward to the celebration of Christ’s birth.  As Iconographers, we rejoice in the implications of this time waiting, the coming of Christ, the Word made flesh.  Truly a symbol of Icons where we write the Image of Christ in remembrance of His HolyPresence and action upon us. During Advent we open our  hearts to His influence and love in joyous anticipation of a life filled with the fulness of His Spirit.

Christ Icon
Christ in Glory Icon written by Christine Hales

I love this Icon of Christ in Glory, especially at this time of year. The predominant colors of red, green and gold ochre are highly symbolic and offer a clarity and simplicity found especially in Advent.  Red and green are opposites and in Christ, both heaven and earth are united, within the context of gold, the color of God’s Presence and light.  The four Evangelists in the corners remind us of Christ’s birth as a fulfillment of both Old and New Testament Prophesies.

In the  two unfinished stages of the Annunciation Icon below, written by Jennifer Richard-Morrow, they graphically depict a sense of waiting, the form is visible, but the details are coming slowly, eventually creating a dynamic picture of a very exciting event in the life of Mary.

written by Jennifer Richard-Morrow
Annunciation Icon written by Jennifer Richard-Morrow-roskrish state.
Nearly finished Icon by Jennifer Richard-Morrow
Nearly finished Icon by Jennifer Richard-Morrow

In Advent, I think of Mary- her waiting.  Keeping her focus on God, her savior, prided a faith filled context within which the waiting became joyous.  Her whole being was trained through prayer  and family lo

Madonna and Child Iconve to honor God’s will and to rejoice that she was chosen for the difficult and perilous mission of being the mother of Jesus.  She believed God was doing great things for her.  God’s will, not her own. “Oh, how I praise the Lord, my savior.” Luke 1 :46.

I encourage you to meditate and reflect, with a Madonna Icon if possible. God has called each one of us.  May we wait with certainty and joy as his plan unfolds.

Brother Aidan, a Benedictine monk of the Holy Cross Monastery, has a weekly blog that this week begins a meditation on Advent and fasting. “Learning How to Fast”.  He talks about how important it is to allow ourselves to experience the feeling of emptiness.  We need to experience hunger in order to know what we are truly hungry for.

“Although Advent is not a penitential season, it is a season of waiting and watching, a season of expectation. Our Christmas celebration will be all the sweeter if we sit in the gathering darkness of winter and allow ourselves to long for the dawning of the light rather than turning on every lightbulb in the house in an effort to cast out the shadows. Let’s relearn how to fast. It will make our feast all the more joyous when it comes.”  Brother Aidan, Holy Cross Monastery

Mary Icon almost finished
Mary Icon almost finished

 

“For a true Iconographer, creation is the way of asceticism and prayer, that is, essentially, a monastic way.” Leonid Ouspensky; The Meaning Of Icons

Sending love and prayers this beautiful Advent Season.  May you experience the love of God and Mary especially this Christmas.

Christine

 

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