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July 29, 2016

Book: Embracing the Icon of Love
Author: Br. Daniel Korn, CSsR
Liguori, Liguori, MO. 2015. Pp. 96

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Icons function as windows into the spiritual mystery bringing us closer to the divine mystery and helping us strengthen our faith as we meditate on them. The icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is one of the best-loved and most well-known of these icons.

This book explores the messages within the Our Mother of Perpetual Help icon, deepening our understanding of the Incarnation, suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. Through guided meditations on the five key elements of the icon, questions, and space for personal reflection, this book will guide you on the path toward deeper understanding and prayerful devotion, with Our Mother of Perpetual Help as your guide.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Face (An image of the face of Mary in the icon)

The first thing many notice in the icon is the eight-pointed star on the top of Mary's veil. This most ancient symbol of Mary comes to us from catacombs. Ancient artists used the eight-pointed star to identify images of Mary.

The star of the Magi in the infancy narratives comes to mind as the symbol that captured the imagination of the Roman Christians. It became a statement connecting Mary with the revelation of the Incarnation as well as a way to identify her image.

Mary, according to St. Bonaventure, is the aurora, the early-morning star that precedes the rising Sun of Justice --- Jesus. Mary is the rising star who drives away the night of sin and prepares the way for the mercy and love of God to be manifested in the flesh, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer.

As St. Luke writes in his Gospel, quoting the angel Gabriel "you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.

We sing in hymns and antiphons, "Ave Maris Stella," that star of the sea that guides the ships to the shore of safety. Mary is the portal of the sky, the one announcing the coming of the Son of God. She is the star that leads us to redeeming love.

In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis states: "She constantly contemplates the mystery of God in our world, in human history and in our daily lives. She is the woman of prayer and work in Nazareth, and she is also Our Lady of Help, who sets out from her town 'with haste' to be of service to others. This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelization.

Table of Contents:

1. What is an icon?

2. How to read and pray with icons

3. Before you begin

4. The face

5. The hands of Mary

6. The Child (Logos)

7. The angels

8. The golden background

9. The mystical consciousness of the icon

10. Mary in the life of the church today

Prayers and Exercises

Experiencing the icon's energy

The prayer of gazing

11. Prayers and exercises

The history of the icon and its resurrection