Prime The Open Door: Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and PrayerAuthor Frederica Mathewes Green –

Frederica Mathewes Green, Whose Books On Eastern Orthodoxy Have Popularized Ancient Christian Practices For A Modern Audience, Beautifully Underscores The Importance Of Following The Precedent Of The Earliest Christians In The Illumined Heart The Ancient Christian Path Of TransformationViews The Icons That Would Be Found In A Typical Contemporary Orthodox Church, Explains Their History And Theology, And Shows How Icons Can Be Used As A Natural Part Of A Worshiper S Devotional Life

6 thoughts on “The Open Door: Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer

  1. Kurt Messick Kurt Messick says:

    Praying with icons has a long and not always untroubled history in Christian practice even the Western Protestant tradition that has come to eschew iconographic elements in worship to varying degrees still recognises the history and artistic value of images in some contexts Author Frederica Mathewes Green is writing primarily to this group in her text, with careful explanations and good descriptions that show the spiritual value of icons in a worshipful and prayerful setting.Mathewes Green writes, Unelss you re a member of an Orthodox church, you probably haven t encountered icons in their natural setting In this text, she constructs an imaginary church for the reader to visit, with various icons in their typical Orthodox positions The first part, Iconostasis, looks at the icons that would been on the screen at the altar area Pictures of the icons are included as colour plates at the centre of the book these include The Christ of Sinai, The Virgin of Vladimir, The Resurrection, and St John the Baptist The second part of the book looks at other icons that might be present in a church, including images of saints, images from scriptural stories of both Old and New Testaments, and other gospel traditional images of Christ These are included as black and white images in the centre of the book.Mathewes Green describes the images both in terms of artistry as well as spiritual connection Some icons are stylised to a high degree, and others are realistic By realistic, however, icons are not meant to be portrayals of people in natural settings icons are meant to connect the one pondering and meditating upon them with the object of worship, that is, with God, in ways that reach the soul beyond what mere words could achieve Icons often have a penetrating effect , with a play at elements of perspective, colour, materials, size and other aspects that draw the eye in particular directions, and place the viewer in otherworldly positions.Icons are meant to be than interesting pictures As Mathewes Green concedes, some icons aren t even good art in many technical senses Icons have their fullest impact on those who are saturated in prayer and Scripture, and who participate in the full life of the Church, with all her mysteries, hymns and worship Mathewes Green describes liturgies and services as well as times of private prayer and devotion during her trips to the imaginary Orthodox church Her book ends with one of my favourite images, the Old Testament Trinity done by Rublev in 1411 Archbishop Rowan Williams writes about this in one of his books on icons, too The icon is known to me frequently by the name The Hospitality of Abraham, and this feature is made prominent by the fact that in some versions of this icon, the figures of Abraham and Sarah are not present, even in the background.Mathewes Green invites the reader on a dozen imaginative trips to gaze upon the windows into heaven , to meditate upon their stories and be enriched There is a glossary of terms that might be unfamiliar, particularly to those whose background is not from a liturgical tradition, but such terminology is kept to a minimum throughout the text Mathewes Green concludes with some suggestions for further readings, and some website resources for finding out about icons, including where to purchase them.This is a wonderful, spirit filled book.

  2. Marie Marie says:

    When I first encountered these icons, I thought the way they were portrayed was strange with many of the figures looking back at me with what often appeared to be an unfriendly manner but this book has a very readable way of explaining icons and why they look the way they do Frederica Mathewes Green presents 12 different icons illustrations included and explains each one and the message it is trying to portray I look at icons very differently after reading her book.

  3. Patricia H. Parker Patricia H. Parker says:

    As I am wont to do, I came upon this book by way of a trek through books about Middle Eastern Chrisianity This concise little book 169 pages gives a detailed tour of Icons and their meanings Ms Mathewes Green also includes illustrations of the most frequently seen icons which truly helps the reader.The author takes the reader on a tour of several holidays in the Orthodox church and explains the rituals and the importance of the Icons to these holidays.I highly recommend this book to anyone who has become interested in Icons This would include members of other denominations I recently read that a link has been established between early Orthodox Icons and the illuminations found in early British and Celtic religious books We never really know where our reading will lead us.Enjoy

  4. Nicholas Dujmovic Nicholas Dujmovic says:

    Frederica Mathewes Green, in this gem of a book, avoids the typical problem of much Orthodox literature written by converts it s too often for potential converts and therefore in its tone and approach is unsuitable for those who have long been Orthodox I would recommend this book as a useful and even inspirational text, on the nightstand, for reflection during Advent or another of the periods set aside by the Church for contemplation FMG has a way of taking timeless truths and crystallizing them, often in a unique way I especially liked her description of the Sinai icon of our Lord I had never thought about it before in the way she describes.The only jarring note occurs in her description of the Lamentations service on Holy Friday She says the faithful are acting out the events of Christ s death and burial, processing around the Church as if it were a funeral procession As Frederica must surely know, we are not acting out anything, but really participating, through faith, in the events of our Lord s Passion, so it really IS a funeral procession A minor mistake because we know what she meant to say that does not overshadow the book s great strengths.

  5. K.H. K.H. says:

    Frederica Mathewes Green s little book is a quick and easy read that is reflective and revealing She does a magnificent job in describing the layout of Orthodox Church buildings, the use and place of icons, and feasts and icons a section I found particularily helpful This book is intended, I think, for non orthodox and Orthodox Christians alike who want an introductory type book, either as material to learn about the place icons and sancuaries have in Orthodox worship or for just a nice quick refreshing read.

  6. Sam W-O Sam W-O says:

    Very easy to read understand Like having your own personal guide of the church s year related icons Worth reading.