The Blessing

May 30th, 2010 – by Jerry Holsopple (category: Icon Writing)

My year of learning to paint icons with Father Vladimir came to a close on Thursday. Vika and Ona, the two students who translated for us and accompanied me on this journey were there as well.

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I arrived early at his church on Thursday evening for the blessing of the six icons that I wrote (painted). Father Vladimir was already in his robe and had put the icons on a stand in the middle of the church. He did a liturgy in front of the icons, blessed them with holy water splattered on with a brush three times, and prayed over them naming each icon in the row.

He prayed that they would be used in ways that honor God. He prayed that they would bring miracles to those with needs. He said that any place that treated them with reverence would be a house of God—even though he would be happy to keep them in his church.

After the icons were blessed they were put along one wall of the church, where they became part of the service. He stopped and blessed each one with incense, when that was a normal part of the service and the light of candles flickered around them. (I even thought that several old women stopped to pray with the Mary.) I took a photograph after the service to show how they were arranged. (Ona painted the Gabriel during this year which is next to the Michael that I painted.)

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He told me a number of times over the last week that I should keep painting. He said that he could see that my style was in line with what is known as the naive style. (He already told me I could apply to the Moscow Seminary to continue my learning.) I gave him a book of photographs from St. Catherine in Sinai and he gave me a book of all the Orthodox Churches in Lithuania. He told me that it had been a joy for him to meet with me every week for the last year.

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This experience has truly been a gift for me. If you want to see images of all the finished icons you can go to the previous blog.

I also want to thank Jim Forest, the author of Praying with Icons which I recommend for those of you who want to learn more about icons. He encouraged my painting of Maximilian and introduced me to St. Maria of Paris.

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I suggest you visit the website of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship http://www.incommunion.org/ for more information about these saints.

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To celebrate Ona and Vika took me to a worship service at a Catholic Church out in the countryside, which is usually packed to overflowing. Click on the image to see more of that trip.

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I expect to continue painting as part of my spiritual discipline when I return to the US. Check back on my progress.