Presentation on theme: " The Gospels relate that a large part of Jesus’ public ministry was teaching. He is described as one who taught with authority. The Sermon on the Mount."— Presentation transcript:
The Gospels relate that a large part of Jesus’ public ministry was teaching. He is described as one who taught with authority. The Sermon on the Mount summarize the essence of his teachings Jesus’ style of brief, memorable teaching is characterized in the beatitudes and parables. “As the teacher of wisdom par excellence, Jesus crafted the beatitudes so that his hearers could memorize them, ponder them, and live by them.” (Gerald O’Collins, SJ- noted theologian) In the Sermon on the Mount, his teachings proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven, speak to human behavior, and how to pray. His teaching was innovating.
These pictures are known as Byzantine icons because they refer to a style and purpose originated in the Byzantine Empire (5 th -14 th century) that has continued to contemporary times. An icon is more than a work of art. Its purpose is to teach Christian truth (especially to those who could not read) and to help foster union with the person depicted in the icon. They have been called a “window into Heaven” because of that purpose. The use of icons is important in the Orthodox Church and is used as a prayer form in the Catholic Church. The typical style of a Byzantine icon is bright, vivid colors and often has gold backgrounds. The earliest icons were created in a style called the encaustic technique. Painting is done with molten wax mixed with resin and pigments which are then fused by heat to a support material such as wood or marble. Everything in an icon is symbolic. Painters of icons need to be a theologian as much as an artist. They pray as they paint.
Toplou Monastery in Crete-end of 15 th century Chilander Monastery in Greece- 13th cent. Contemporary iconographer Paul Boyce -1995 Holy monastery of St. Catherine, Sinai- Egypt 6 th century There are many versions of the Jesus the Teacher icon. Sometimes this icon is called Christ the Pantocrator. Pantocrator comes from the Greek meaning “Almighty Ruler.” Although there are differences, all of the icons contain similar symbolic elements. Mosiac in St. Saviour in Chora, Istanbul - 14th century
This icon comes from Dormition Skete Monastery in Buena Vista, Colorado which is dedicated to the painting of traditional icons. It offers panel icons and frescos, both of them painted through the hand of Archbishop Gregory with the aid of the monks of Dormition Skete. Archbishop Gregory has been painting in the Greek Cretan style for over forty-two years, inspired by the great iconographers of ancient times, including the noted (contemporary) iconographer Photios Kontoglou.
In this icon, Jesus is presented in a waist-up view, posed facing the viewer. He holds a book of Scripture in his left hand and his right hand is raised in blessing.
He is dressed in the traditional cloak and tunic. His cloak (called a himantion in Greek) is dark blue. Dark-blue and blue indicate the infiniteness of the sky and is the symbol of another everlasting world. It signifies his Divine nature. His tunic is red Red became the symbol of the resurrection - the victory of life over death. But at the same time it is the color of blood and torments, and the color of Christ's sacrifice.
Christ’s halo, which is a common symbol of sanctity, is inscribed with a cross and the Greek letters omicron, omega, nu, spelling “HO ON.” In English, this becomes “Who Am,” the name used for God in Exodus 3:14. In the background is written “IC XC” the shortened form of Christ’s name, Iesous Khristos in Greek.
In his left hand, Christ holds a book of Scripture. It is a symbol of both his teaching ministry and that he is the embodied Word of God. There is a prominent cross on the cover of the book. Icons that have the book closed are generally considered Christ Pantocrator while icons with the book open are more associated with Christ the Teacher.
In this older icon, thumb, ring finger and little finger are bent together symbolizing the trinity, while the forefinger and slightly bent middle finger are held upright symbolizing the divine and human natures of Christ. The form used in this icon spells out “IC XC.” The index finger is more straight, forming the “I,” the middle and little fingers are curved into “C” shapes, and the thumb and ring finger cross slightly to form the "X." The arrangement of fingers on Jesus’ right hand raised in blessing is significant. Two different forms may be seen in iconography.
The face of Jesus follows ancient traditions. The eyes are large and open, gazing into the distance. The forehead, identified as the seat of wisdom, is high and convex. The nose is long and slender, contributing a look of nobility. The ears are large symbolizing he hears everything. The mouth is small and closed in the silence of contemplation. The hair is curled and flowing, recalling the endless flow of time.
Praying with an icon is a form of meditative prayer where we focus on a divine truth or mystery. We use our imagination and our reason to reflect on what we see in the icon and we allow our heart and emotions to come into play. Like the written Scripture, icons aim to transform the viewer. Thomas Merton, considered one of the great spiritual thinkers of the 20th century, explained, “What one ‘sees’ in prayer before an icon is not an external representation of a historical person, but an interior presence in light, which is the glory of the transfigured Christ, the experience of which is transmitted in faith from generation to generation by those who have ‘seen,’ from the apostles on down.”
Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest and noted spiritual writer, says: "There are many times when I cannot pray, when I am too tired to read the gospels, too restless to have spiritual thoughts, too depressed to find words for God, or too exhausted to do anything. but I can still look at these images so intimately connected with the experience of love." When praying with an icon, we focus on the love of God that we see through it, not on the icon itself. We stand or sit quietly ignoring the pressures of the day, cultivating an awareness of God’s presence and developing an attitude of listening.
Praying with this Icon Perhaps you would like to ponder these questions from Gerald O’Collins about Jesus the Teacher: What kind of mind, imagination, and heart could produce this thinking? What kind of person can we glimpse behind these fresh religious ideas and commanding intuitions about God and the human situation? We invite you to enter into prayer with this icon. Perhaps you would like to consider the divine truths that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Or maybe you would just like to gaze upon the icon in quiet of mind and body and listen for the voice of God.
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