Monday, September 14, 2015

Embracing the Icon of Love (Liguori Publications)

There are a lot of things I love about Christianity. I love reading Scripture and commentaries that point out things I miss. I love the complexity of the Rosary and the simplicity of the Jesus Prayer. I love the knowledge of the Church Fathers and the simplicity of the childlike Saints! And I love the beauty of icons, but more than that I love the depth of icons. Brother Daniel Korn shares this love of iconography, and it is on full display in his book Embracing the Icon of Love.

Embracing the Icon of Love begins with a two chapter introduction that explains what an icon is and how to read and pray with icons. In his words, "Icons are not static objects of sacred imagery that remind us of the holy. Rather, they're energy-filled realities that draw us into a relationship with what the image represents." He goes on to explain in simpler terms that when we pray before an icon of Mary, "we are also in the space of God that resides within Mary." Part II of this book walks us through praying with one of the most famous icons, the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. There are five elements of the Gospel story of Jesus:

1. The Face of the Blessed Mother
2. The Right Hand of Mary that points directly to the heart of Christ
3. Jesus (or the Infant God) that Mary presents to us
4. Angels flanking Mary and Jesus
5. The Golden Background of the Icon

Each chapter goes into more detail. For example, the chapter on the Face of the Blessed Mother focuses on her eyes, ears, mouth, and the eight-pointed star which adorns her head. Each chapter also includes a Scripture reflection, reflection questions, and in the middle of the book is full color images zoomed in on the particular aspect of the icon being studied. Brother Daniel meticulously explains many facets of the icon one could easily overlook. For example, most of us focus on the faces of Christ and Mary, but did you notice that his sandal is falling off? If you did, do you know what it means? I did not, but I will share it with you. It represents Christ's humility in taking on His human nature. Every element; every color; every detail of an icon is deliberate, so you must take your time when praying with an icon, so take your time and don't rush!

The book contains a concluding two parts - one with prayers and exercises before the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the other with a history on the icon and its restoration. In fact, this book was published to announce the 150th Anniversary of the icon being given into Redemptorist care by Pope Pius IX. His mission for the Redemptorists when placing this icon in their care was to make Our Lady of Perpetual Help known to all. They have certainly done that through the years, and this book is taking that mission a step further. So whether you have a love for iconography' like me; a devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Hope; or just are an inquiring heart, you will find beauty and truth in this book. I highly recommend it!

This book was provided to me for free by Liguori Publications in exchange for an honest review. To see an interview of Brother Daniel Korn by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, click here. And if you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!