Icons for Lent

Lent is almost here.  I have set up my “beautiful corner” for the prayers and images for the season.   I find myself drawn to certain of my icons during Lent, and create a home altar to contemplate and prepare my soul for the celebration of the Resurrection of our Savior.

One prays not “to” icons, but “with” them, and in the presence of the person depicted.  An icon represents someone in particular, and we are in their presence of and in communion with the saints and God as we pray.  Having the imags in front of me keeps me focussed and cognizant of this, of God’s presence with me every day, of the entire communion of saints praying with me.

I used 3 icons for my Lenten altar:  the first is an image called “Extreme Humility”.  The model for this icon is Serbian.

Jesus is shown with a part of the cross above, and part of the stone tomb indicated below.  His hands are crossed over His chest, in death, and in a symbolic gesture of silence and humility.  He is shown as dead, because the Son of God truly died on the cross, only to rise again.  He bears the marks of suffering and pain on His body.  Jesus’ head is bowed in submission to the will of God.  He gives all of Himself to God for our sake.  We are saved through His loving sacrifice.

The second is a small crucifix that I painted, based on an 8th century Syrian icon.  Jesus has died upon the Cross.  Blood and water gush from his side.  The Cross is glowing with gold, with Divine Light.  Jesus wears not the usual loincloth, but a long gown:  the ancient gown of a High Priest in the Middle East.  There isn’t too much emphasis on His suffering in this image, but instead on His conquering of death through the giving of Himself for us.  The inscription above His head reads:  Jesus Christ, The King of Glory.

Finally, there is an icon of St. Anthony of the Desert/aka St. Anthony the Great/ aka St. Anthony of Egypt. He is one of the earliest Desert Fathers, living alone in the remote Egyption desert as a hermit, praying constantly.  The saint spent many long nights wrestling with temptations of the flesh and the attacks of demons.  Often they came in the context of vivid dreams, and Anthony would awake battered and exhausted.  His temptations were defeated through intense prayer, humility and contemplation in solitude.  An angel was sent to him to strengthen and guide him–perhaps his own guardian angel?  He became famous as a holy man, and many came to him for teaching and guidance.  Eventually his disciples established a monastery in the desert outside of Cairo, which they named after him.  It still exists. His rule is simple:  prayer, times of solitude, and simple work.  St. Anthony’s example of contemplative prayer and his overcoming of personal obstacles has always been an inspiration to me, especially relevant in this time of atonement and repentance.


About reinkat

I am an iconographer, and have been studying Russian/Greek icons since 1995. I'm married with 3 children. I love hiking, camping, animals, my family and church--and icons.
This entry was posted in art, Catholic icons, Catholicism, Christian Prayer, Icon, Iconography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Icons for Lent

  1. Biltrix says:

    Hi Reinkat. Great post for “Mardi Gras.” I would like to reblog this, but I really don’t like the way WP does the reblog feature; nothing against WP, but the one never knows exactly how the reblog is going to work on one’s own blog. It’s kind of clunky, especially with the columns feature on my homepage. So would you mind if I reblogged manually? I’m sure it will send some interest your way. I promote your blog a lot when talking about icons. God bless!

    • reinkat says:

      Good morning, Biltrix. I am thrilled that you want to reblog, and thank you for all of your support and promotion over the past couple of years. It is really appreciated. Most of all I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Reblogging manually. Hmmm. I don’t even know what that is, being the sharp techie that I am 🙂 but sure. It sounds great. And it looks great, too, since I just saw it posted. Thanks again.
      Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday have never been part of my life. It was never mentioned in my Polish Catholic upbringing at all, and I learned of its existence when I went to college.
      May God bless you today and always.

      • Biltrix says:

        I never celebrate Mardi Gras either, it just seems… like sinning right before going to confession. Maybe not exactly, but the idea of indulging intentionally before entering into sacrificial mode just doesn’t seem right to me. But, you know, we Catholics will find always an excuse to party 😉

        Which reminds me, St Patrick’s is just around the corner…

  2. A beautiful presentation. Thank you.

  3. Biltrix says:

    Reblogged this on Biltrix and commented:
    Are you thinking of a way to strengthen your prayer and devotion to Christ during Lent? Consider praying with icons. Here are some suggestions and examples to give you an idea of how to use icons for Christian prayer during Lent.

  4. Joe says:

    Reblogged this on Joe Sales Writes and commented:
    I love icons. I really liked this post and wanted to share with readers of my blog. – Joe

  5. Joe says:

    I love icons too. I thought about doing something similar myself for Lent and keeping it as a permanent area in my office.

    • reinkat says:

      I think you should. It can bring nothing but good. Please do take a picture and share it once you set it up!
      Thanks for the comment and the follow.

  6. R. M. says:

    Reblogged this on Being Catholic and commented:
    I think this is a delightful idea for Lent. I wish I’d thought of it. That said, the post is well worth reading for the information on the icons themselves.

    • reinkat says:

      Thank you! You know it is not too late to set up a home altar of your own design . . . and if you do, I hope you take a picture and share it.

      • R. M. says:

        You’re welcome, I enjoyed your post. Sadly, I don’t have the icons to do such a thing but hope to start getting a couple this year.

        Thank you

  7. SR says:

    Beautiful and well done. How peaceful it all looks! God Bless, SR

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