The Gospel reading from December 7 is one of my favorites. You know the one, from Luke:5, where the paralyzed man is lowered, by his loved ones, through a hole in the roof to Jesus, who first forgives his sins, then heals his body. I love this evidence of the importance of faith, and prayer–prayer for others. Our prayers for our loved ones are heard, and they are effective. Sometimes they are the only link to God for a person who cannot, or will not, pray for themselves–whose spiritual life is paralyzed.
With this in mind, I am beginning a new icon. It will be a visible expression of prayers for healing and conversion of heart for my beloved children and all who have lost their faith in God and His Church.
It is a type of icon called a “Deesis” from a Greek word meaning prayer or supplication.
It most often shows Christ in glory, with Mary and John the Baptist on either side of Him, looking towards Him in worship and prayer. Sometimes the Deesis shows other saints, angels, patron saints, bishops, or even the donor who provided the icon for a church praying. Sometimes it shows full standing figures, other times only head&shoulder busts.
A beautiful and ancient Russian icon depicts Jesus as Christ Emmanuel, a child, and shows only the faces. Jesus looks straight forward, the other figures incline their heads towards Him in supplication.
I chose this last composition as a model, mainly because I had a long narrow board (31″X 6″) and could not fit more than faces on it. I want to show Christ as the healer, as the source of divine mercy. There is room for 4 other figures/faces, and I studied carefully as to which to include. The Theotokos, the Mother of God, of course, on His right side. On His other side is my hero, St. Monica, who persevered in prayer for her own son for decades. Next to her is St. Therese of Lisieux, who promised to spend her time in heaven bringing lost souls to Christ. Next to our Blessed Mother is St. John Bosco, who devoted his life on earth to the loving care of abandoned boys.
The rough drafts of the drawing are already started on tissue paper.
I will spend the next several months working on this icon whenever I get the chance. Every stroke of the brush will be a prayer for those who have strayed away from our Lord. I want to invite all of you to join me in prayer for your own loved ones who might be in this situation, as I paint the images of Jesus, His holy mother, and the saints in heaven–who join their prayers with ours.