Advent Meditations: Saturday 3 December

Dec 3, 2022 by

Dec 3
am: 96
Exodus 3:5 Ephesians 1:16-20 Luke 12: 32-40

 Feast of St. John of Damascus, Priest and Doctor of the Church, 749 – He was a learned theologian who carefully gathered together and transmitted to the West the teachings of the Greek Fathers, and is thus one of the most trustworthy teachers of the  oriental/eastern  tradition of the catholic faith.. He also wrote many liturgical hymns still in use today.

 MEDITATION- The lessons today are taken from the various orthodox lections for the feast day and they challenge us to ponder in this season when the culture throws out so many symbols and images associated with a consumer Christmas, to stop for a moment and consider the spirituality of Icons. This is a worthy Advent discipline when you consider that much time is given to reindeers, snowmen and sleigh bells! To make the case even more pressing, it is unfortunate, that most people today think of an icon only as an image on a computer screen. Long before computer Icons there were religious icons which are commonly referred to as “windows to heaven”. The idea that St. John of Damascus offered was that that a piece of artwork can give us a glimpse of the invisible (which is imbedded in the teachings of Christology – the study of the person of Christ) – which focuses on the Incarnation. Because God took on human flesh, He allows us to see the person of Christ, who is God! What better time of year to look through these eternal windows?

While some folks who see themselves more biblically based in their faith balk at this, they might wish to consider that Icons can be thought of as a natural outgrowth of a sacramental understanding of the world. God uses the created world to reveal Himself to us and to give us grace. Oftentimes in prayer, our imaginations can race in a distracted manner. Icons can help us to overcome distraction. They invite us to focus on an image of the holy that points the way to God. Icons take us beyond words and give us a visual reminder of God’s love for us. It is another way to ponder our faith and who God is. St. John of Damascus fought hard for this truth and given the images our culture offers in this holiday season, perhaps we Christians needs to show what the alternatives truly are!

PRAYER: Gracious God, All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 ACTIVITY – St. John Damascene was a great preserver of Christian art, and is also called the “Doctor of Christian Art.” We should appreciate his contribution to our Church’s heritage. Today would be a great day to use as part of your prayer time a reflection on  religious art, especially by some of the greatest artists such as Raphael, or  Michelangelo. Another area to study would be religious icons. Icons, are unique and very different from realistic art, carry deep symbolic meanings in every detail. Perhaps a visit to a local orthodox church might help appreciate this type of pathway to worship. Perhaps purchasing one as a gift for a person who loves art but may not yet love Christ!

ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE: “It is the task of the iconographer to open our eyes to the actual presence of the Kingdom of God in the world, and to remind us that although we see nothing of its splendid liturgy, we are if we believe in Christ the redeemer, in fact living and worshipping as “fellow citizens of the angels and saints, built upon the chief

cornerstone with Christ.”?”-Fr. Louis (aka Thomas Merton),  The Meaning of Icons.

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