Friday, July 20, 2007
Finally, mention might be made of the Russian icon type called “In Thee Rejoiceth O Gracious One” which originated as late as the 15th Century, and derived from an anthem in the Eastern Christian Liturgy. This icon is very close too the Mandala in its structure, which is used in the East to lead the mind of the worshipper towards concentration, or, as it is often termed “One-pointedness” We see in the centre of this image a structure that represents the Church, where, in a circle, is enthroned Mary, and on her lap the child Jesus. Around the Church is painted a garden. Above is the traditional “Sabaoth Lord God”, with “Emanuel the Child” in His bosom, and in the child’s breast the Dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit. This image is essentially an image of the Glory of God, and depicts in a visual form the Doxology that is the centre of the liturgical act of worship. Here we find an image of the Trinity, in relation to the spiritual life of the Church. Between above and below there is a connection, as between the heavenly and earthly Jerusalem. The icon is not just something static. It represents an act of transformation, where that which is transcendent, beyond the power of the imagination to conceptualise, is given a form that enters the heart and focuses our yearning for the Light. In the human presence of Mary we find a reflection of our own humanity, and it is this humanity which is being lifted up, and transformed by the spiritual force that is symbolized by the Spirit. If the structure of the icon represents the incarnation, and the humanity of Jesus born into the cave of the human heart, the light which illumines the icon, is the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, that gives breath and life to the whole of creation.