INTERGENERATIONAL change means that the pilgrimage of the icon of Mary and the young Jesus as part of the WYD08 celebrations (CL 01/07/2007) raises the interesting dilemma whether the young participants in WYD08 will interpret the icon as would my generation, or will they create a new way of seeing what the icon means for them?
In 2005 Pope Benedict XVI commented that an icon comes from prayer and leads to prayer.
The features of the people in an icon should not prevent a new kind of “seeing”. An icon aims to open up the inner senses by getting beyond the empirical.
Initially Eastern icons focused on the Pantocrator, the Lord of All, the Almighty, El Shaddai and a Christ perceived in the light of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, the mount where the events of Sinai are “re-enacted” in the life of the “new” Moses.
Eventually that changed to a focus on the crucified Lord through a narrative of the agony of the Passion.
Western devotionalism, he says, has been based on the historical events of the Life of Christ.
An icon reflects the priority of sacramental liturgy which in essence is a following of the Risen Lord where the curtain between heaven and earth is torn open.
Pope Benedict quoted the Orthodox icon painter Evdokimov who said that icon painters must “fast with their eyes” and prepare themselves by a long path of prayerful asceticism. Salvation history is sacramental before it is a narrative unfolded in time.
The icon portrays the young Jesus such that there is an obvious connecting narrative with the young people of WYD08.
Hopefully the young participants will experience a transformation of their lives to a communion with the life of the Almighty as reflected pictorially in the icon and described in St Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6:18.
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