Friday, March 24, 2017

Why Do Icons have Dimensions that are Abstract Not Just Naturalistic?

In this world we can normally only see with our natural eyes and mind, so our visual minds will remain untouched by spiritual sight and stay just earthly and worldly.  We have all heard the saying, “seeing is believing” which does actually express a deep truth.  It is only with an effort to look beyond our outward senses, that the inner world can open and reveal the hidden and wonderful nature of things as they really are—as God sees them—which He will share with all those who truly want to know the truth, because He Himself is Truth.

How can we show this in two dimensional art?  By using a conscious and directed partial abstraction to open to us the divine forms of things, as is shown in the icons.  Often icons have hands and feet and eyes and noses that are not just naturalistic but somewhat abstracted.  Icons have a positive abstraction that elevates the mind and heart to pierce the veil of mere materiality, and show by looking through these icons, our “windows into Heaven”, something more than the physical eyes and mind can see.  This seeing is truly believing.  The icons, with their directed partial abstraction, open the mind and heart to see the true spiritual world, and to contact God and His Holy Ones directly.  Let us look through the icons with our hearts open, and behold the Heaven of God’s true Light!

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Why are Icons Dynamic Yet Balanced, Instead of Being Static or Symmetrical?

In the Orthodox Church the view of Heaven is that it is not static but always dynamic.  It is taught that all those who go there continue to grow towards a fuller perfection even after they have come to live in this blessed place, because God is still infinitely more than whatever they had partaken of Him in their own journey towards Him on earth.  Thus the reality for all Eternity is that as God is creatively alive and infinitely full, so those who have come to live in His presence can and will continuously grow and grow in holiness and in greater life when they are living closer to Him. 

The icons are “windows into Heaven” so they reflect this Heavenly truth even when shown here on earth, and so are dynamic rather than static, balanced but not symmetrical.  They imply motion, aliveness, vitality, vigor, and strength even though they are yet in form just two-dimensional art.  Rest in motion, peace in growth, life in more life—ideas hard to express in our still fallen world, but with Christ all things are possible.  Let us yearn towards His Light and see then with a greater sight! 

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What is the Best Way to Choose an Icon?

Icons are not just pictures or art, but have a living spiritual dimension beyond just the material form by which they are seen.  When we look at an icon we are entering in some mysterious way into a relationship with the person or event depicted, and this is a two-way relationship.  This is a mystery that cannot be fully explained but can be directly felt.

After coming to a particular holy person or subject of an icon then, the best way to choose one is to notice if you are feeling drawn to any particular image.  That means that at this time we can have a dynamic interaction with that icon and person or event over a longer period of time.  It is not an intellectual exercise, but deeper than just the rational mind, just like love is more, or respect, or admiration.  Let us choose by being quiet and open to “see” an image, an icon that appeals directly to us.  Blessed picking!

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Why Are There Icons of the Virgin Mary and the Saints?

All people are made in the Image of God from their creation.  This is said in the beginning of the Holy Scriptures.  When human beings open themselves into a living relationship with God and the Church, they begin to blossom and become more and more like Jesus Christ Who is an Image of God the Father.  His Light begins to shine in them, and purify them, and cleanse them until they become living icons of Him.  That is why they are called saints, which means holy.
 
They reflect His Light in them and shine with reflected glory.  The Virgin Mary and most of the Apostles became holy like this, and in time many more people also became like them.  They too shone with Him manifestly becoming living icons even while alive here on earth.  Because they are with Him and live in Him and image Him even now, we can call on them as older brothers and sisters in the Faith to hear us because they are with Him so closely.  God answers prayers, even sometimes through the Saints, but He answers them.  Let us behold the beauty of the Virgin Mary and all the Saints as we draw near to Him!

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

How the Image of God Is Manifest in the Holy Icons

According to St. Basil,  Christ is the image of God the Father, Whom no man hath ever seen.  We can see God by beholding Jesus Christ manifest inwardly when He becomes the very Light of our life and our means of perception, seeing all other things through Him.  We can see God outwardly by looking at His Holy icons which are a direct revelation of Him as He was in the flesh. Then we must look through those icons as “windows into the Heavenly Realms”: where Christ is the very light of perception of the Next World.

The Holy Icons help us in another way as we are always included in the act of beholding an icon and are a living part of each icon that we behold.  This “window into Heaven” is a two-way window.  When we see Him with love and compassion, the image of God that was planted in us becomes alive and luminous, for we are essentially made in His Image. The word Icon is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for Image, so we are made as the icons of Him.   Let us reach out to Him ardently so that He reaches back to us in love!

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Where Do Icons Come From?


Jesus made the first icon by pressing His face to a cloth, sometimes known as Veronica’s Veil.  Veronica’s name means “true icon.”   It is also called “the image not-made-by-hands.”  All icons of Him are patterned after this image.  St. Luke was the first iconographer or icon painter.  He painted the Virgin Mary from life. Some of his icons are still here so we can see what she looked like too.
All of the icons have two dimensions, one earthly after the form which each person appeared in this world, and one Heavenly in the deliberate abstraction added to the image to show us more than just realism.  God was both Man and God.  When He was on earth He was always more than just what people could see outwardly.  Some people found that He was God incarnate even while He was here. Let us look deeply into the icons to see this dimension too!
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Developing New Website

Orthodox Byzantine Icons is in the process of development and making improvements for current website, www.skete.com, and is planning on a major shift to a new and improved platform in 2017.

These improvements will provide a more modern and enhanced user experience while visiting or shopping at skete.com.

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