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Author Topic: An Orthodox in a Byzantine Catholic environment  (Read 3156 times) Average Rating: 0
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LizaSymonenko
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« on: September 29, 2009, 03:53:44 PM »


I would like some advice, please.

I have always wanted to learn iconography.  Saturday, I saw a flyer advertising a week long coarse, not far from home, being taught in the evenings.  It's taught by a Byzantine Catholic Ukrainian priest.

I personally, didn't find anything wrong with learning the techniques from a Byzantine Catholic individual.  After all, when I attend other classes, my teachers certainly aren't Orthodox.

My issues lies in this....

Today, I took some time to surf the Web and read up on this priest.  He seems to be a renown iconographer and travels the US/world teaching courses.

One of the sites explains the steps involved.  So far what was written covered exactly what we had been taught last night.

Next step is mixing the dyes.  Apparently the dye is mixed with egg yolk, vinegar and holy water.  There is my first issue.  The holy water.  This is not the water that was blessed in an Orthodox church on Theophany.  Am I being overly silly? 

What's worse, is that it said that upon completion the icon gets placed on the altar and blessed, then given to the "painter" who prays before it and can then give it away.

The course is being taught in a Byzantine Catholic church.  What if upon completion everyone marches upstairs and actually places their icons on the altar?  Would I be remiss or judgmental or like a Pharisee (as OzGeorge often accuses me of being) if I declined to have my icon placed on the alter?

I honestly would prefer my icon to be "Orthodox" in all ways.

Please let me know your thoughts on my silly little dilemma.

Thanks so much.


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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2009, 04:00:24 PM »

I personally think you're being a bit scrupulous about your reservations, but I'm sure that you could a) bring your own holy water (just be discrete about it) and b) ask if you, as an communicant of the Orthodox Church, could just take your icon home afterwards and it blessed in your own parish. 
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2009, 04:06:13 PM »


Please, don't think me "badly" of me. 

I simply am afraid of doing something wrong.

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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2009, 04:15:29 PM »

Please forgive me!  I don't think badly of you at all as I know your intentions are good! Smiley  It's just that one of the things we (ex) Cat'licks are taught about is scrupulosity and how it can easily fester; those of us who were taught about it at an early age are always on the lookout for it Smiley

Again, I'm sure if you talked to the priest in question he would understand your reservations and find a way for you to be comfortable. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2009, 04:31:35 PM »

I am Ukrainian Orthodox: frankly I myself as a member of the orthodox Church would never take a class on iconography taught by a Ukrainian Catholic.
Why would I expose myself to the danger of their theology?

There are many Orthodox iconographers giving classes so I would choose an Orthodox iconographer as a teacher.  The theology of iconography and the theology of the symbolism of iconography is important.  I would prefer to be taught Orthodox Theology not Ukrainian Catholic theology.
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2009, 04:36:36 PM »


Well, easier said than done.

For years I've wanted to take a class.  The ones that were offered where too far for me.

I couldn't agree with you more.  My preference would be Ukrainian Orthodox, too.

However, I simply can't miss a week of work, or leave my family for 5 - 6 days while I am off on a retreat.

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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2009, 05:05:57 PM »



Lisa:

I too would only take lessons from an Orthodox teacher.  Guess I have seen just many Byzantine Icons of Christ and the Theotokos with the 'Sacred Heart' and 'Immaculate Heart' on them!  Though most Icons written by Greek Catholics are copied from Orthodox Icons.

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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2009, 05:10:39 PM »

I'll ask this:  have you talked to your priest about taking this class?  His opinion (and what you should do regarding your reservations) is paramount, especially to those on an internet forum Smiley

As always, when in doubt, ask your priest! Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2009, 05:26:22 PM »

Thanks everyone for your advice!

Don't worry there's definitely no sacred heart in sight.

I know better!

;-)
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« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2009, 07:10:07 PM »

Maybe if they find out your Orthodox they wouldn't let you put your icon on the altar, maybe they wouldn't even let you take the class... Roll Eyes

Seriously though, if you are that worried about your icon being touched by Byzantine Catholic holy water or being on a Byzantine Catholic altar why take a class being taught by a Byzantine Catholic in the first place?  Would you appreciate a Byzantine Catholic coming to an Orthodox class and behaving this way?  Save them the trouble of being insulted. 
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« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2009, 08:14:58 PM »

I would never insult them, or anyone else.

The class was not advertised as a Byzantine Catholic class, simply a class on iconography.

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« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2009, 08:54:54 PM »

As others have said, talk to your priest.

I don't think the Byzantine Catholic priest would mind if at the end of the class you took the icon to your parish to be blessed, or if you used your own holy water. Just don't be flashy about it. (And I know you wouldn't be. Smiley )

Just because it's being taught by a Byzantine Catholic doesn't mean there isn't something of value to be learned. I mean, I'm no expert on Iconography, but I can't imagine their techniques are that different than ours.

You may not walk away a Master Iconographer, but you'll at least have a better appreciation for how they are done. Not to mention, I'm sure the prayer and fasting done while painting the icon will be of spiritual benefit to your soul.

I say take the class. Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2009, 09:48:50 PM »

Too bad you don't go to my parish, Liza! We have iconography lessons every Saturday afternoon at church!
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« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2009, 10:11:14 PM »

It might be frustrating not to take advantage of what appears to be a good opportunity, but I say listen to your instinct and stay away. 

You sound prudent to me, not excessively scrupulous, and there is plenty of danger to be found by accepting theological teaching from Byzantine Catholics. 

If God wills for you to learn iconography, a path will be provided in due time.  There's no need to force it along by trying to get what appears to be the next best thing.
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« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2009, 11:51:02 PM »

I would say if you are so worried about it, then just avoid it altogether.  Sometimes our consciences can seem a little bit ridiculous, but they are still our internal moral compass and we have to honor them.
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« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2009, 12:20:47 AM »

My advice: talk to you priest. My gut feeling: avoid going to this Byzantine Catholic iconography class. Just my two cents.
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« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2009, 10:01:30 AM »

My own little mission rents space weekly from a Ukrainian Catholic church (no local Orthodox churches were prepared to offer hospitality). We worship in the church itself only occasionally, using a hall on Sunday mornings where we have to set up and take down of course. The iconography in the church is amazing. They offer iconography classes every second year during Lent. None of us has ever attended one, but our priest would certainly be in favour of it. From what I've been reading in this thread, it appears that there is really quite a variation in the emphases and practices of Byzantine Catholics, so each case has to be judged on its own merits. It really is a case of seeking direction from your own priest.
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« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2009, 01:07:46 PM »

I would never insult them, or anyone else.

The class was not advertised as a Byzantine Catholic class, simply a class on iconography.



Hmmmm!  I wonder why they weren't upfront about that?  Icons are theological and give a theological message.

I can see your dilema.  You really want to learn iconography and this is your only chance?  I see these workshops by various iconographers on the web but it always involves money to travel

Is this more than a one day workshop?
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« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2009, 01:53:14 PM »

I would never insult them, or anyone else.

The class was not advertised as a Byzantine Catholic class, simply a class on iconography.



Hmmmm!  I wonder why they weren't upfront about that?  Icons are theological and give a theological message.


Let's see.  It's a class on iconography being taught by a Byzantine-rite Catholic priest in a Byzantine-rite Catholic church.

How much more up front can you be?
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« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2009, 04:17:17 PM »



Hello folks.

If it was so advertised, I missed it.  I was simply too excited to have an iconography class offered within easy driving distance.

The course runs evenings all week from 6 to about 9:30, and then Saturday from 10 - 4.

I regret all my worries.  I did sign up for it, and am happily spending 3 hours each evening painting an icon of Christ.

The priest teaching the class is a very good iconographer, and teaches very well, making it understandable for even the beginner.

When I asked to include the letters (OWN, WON) in Christ's nimbus instead of the diamond decorations, he had no issue.  He told me it was my icon and I could make it the way I saw fit.

All the theology he has shared so far has not been against Orthodox teachings in any way.  He told us of the history of icons, the spiritual aspect of creating one, all the symbolism of using natural materials. 
The priest even showed us a short video of an Orthodox Monastery and the sisters teaching an iconography class.

I am feeling completely at ease, for the most part.  They are aware from day 1 that I am Orthodox, and as long as nobody has an issue with me, I have no issues learning from them.

I was amazed last evening.  They were celebrating a Vespers for the Protection of the Mother of God.  I was ushered in to the church and at first was feeling rather confused as to whether it was proper for me to be in a Catholic church, or not.

If I had not known it was Catholic, I would never have guessed.  The prayers were the same as are recited in my church, the icons were lovely, the iconstasis, the priest's robes, the incense....

They did commemorate their local bishops, but, the Pope was not mentioned, at all.

So, thank you all for all your kind advice, support and good intentions on my behalf.  Sometimes I am so worried not to do the wrong thing, that I make mountains out of mole hills.

If the priest wishes to bless the completed icons, I simply will inform him that I've already asked my own priest to bless my icon.  I honestly don't think he will mind.  They've been most kind and understanding.

I am glad I am taking the class.  It is close to home, I don't have to travel and stay away from the family for a week (because I simply could NOT stay away for a week). 

Thank you everyone.  Please pray for me that I do a good job with the icon.  I am trying my best!
 

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« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2009, 04:24:20 PM »

I'm so happy for you, Liza! It sounds like you're having a very good experience! You are inspiring me to join the class at my parish one of these days too.
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« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2009, 04:24:31 PM »

I'm glad you're enjoying yourself and learning.  You've certainly taken a step into a larger world.  May God bless you in your journey as a budding iconographer! Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2009, 04:25:32 PM »

I personally see no problem in taking the class.  As for using your own Holy Water and having your own priest bless it, I'm sure the teacher would understand.  I remember a bishop telling me when I asked him about becoming a monk.  He told me to spend as much time as possible at Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston.  He said they would teach true monasticism, but avoid their other teachings.  His example was, "You can learn from a mason how to build a wall, but it doesn't mean you have to become a mason."  Don't fret...enjoy the classes.
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« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2009, 04:45:56 PM »


 Cheesy

Thank you all for your encouragement!

Big HUG!

(I'll post a picture once I have completed the icon.)

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« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2009, 10:31:55 AM »


I completed my first icon a week ago, and was able to get it blessed by my priest yesterday (see photos).

I was needlessly worried about taking lessons from a ByzCatholic priest.  He was very nice and knowledgeable.  When I asked to do my icon differently than what he was instructing (ie. putting the Greek letters in the nimbus versus gems and polka dots, adding the 9 lines in the in the nimbus, etc.) he had no problem and only reiterated that what I was asking was actually the correct way the icon should be "written".

I thoroughly enjoyed myself!  Having always been interested in iconography, I was thrilled to actually go through the steps myself.   

I recommend iconography to everyone!  It not only gives you a new appreciation for icons, but, for the Faith. 

When we began the icons, we prayed...but, not only that, we actually wrote prayers on the white gessoed board.  For example, if the icons are being made for a wedding couple, then their names are inscribed, if they are being written for someone or something in particular, a prayer for that person is written on the icon.  Gave me goosebumps.  I had to stop, and think.  I covered my icon with prayers (in Ukrainian, all along the borders and edge.)  I had read that a cross should be made on the icon wherever you think people might be kissing it, like Christ's shoulder, the corners, etc...  It was really a deep, spiritual experience for me.

Then we applied chaos.  It's a mix of brown and blue (God created the heavens and the earth)...and it get's applied all over the board as a base.  This represents that out of chaos God created order.  It was really, really inspiring.  Every step had spiritual meaning behind it.

Even the use of the egg as the base for the tempera (natural material) paints.  The egg represents life and resurrection.  Once the yolk was cleaned and emptied into a container then holy water would be added (three times as much as yolk - Trinity).  We used tap water.  To the mix was added vinegar to keep the egg from spoiling too quickly (the vinegar was given to Christ on the Cross).  Everything had spiritual meaning.

The room was silent - no music.  The priest said that he finds it is easier to focus for the new iconographers in a silent room.  More advanced will have liturgical music, or will actually chant.  He did encourage us to keep prayers in our minds, or hum a hymn that will stick and we will simply repeat in our heads - all in order to keep stray, earthly thoughts out of our minds.

It was an expensive course, but, I am so happy that I took it.  I highly recommend everyone try it.  I can't walk by an icon now, without stopping, and staring at it for a long time. 

I have always loved icons and what they represent, but, now, I have a new appreciation.

My priest was not available to bless my icon a week ago, and this last week I was anticipating the event like a huge celebration for me!  I was so honored to see my icon be taken up to the Altar.

What an honor!

Thank you to everyone for your encouragement and support!



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« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2009, 10:49:03 AM »

That icon is beautiful!  You are very talented and I do sincerely hope that you continue studying iconography in a practical manner! Smiley
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« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2009, 12:30:05 PM »

That icon is beautiful!  You are very talented and I do sincerely hope that you continue studying iconography in a practical manner! Smiley

That makes two of us!  Beautiful Liza.  You have a God given talent.  Take advantage of this gift you have been given.

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« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2009, 12:56:48 PM »


I completed my first icon a week ago, and was able to get it blessed by my priest yesterday (see photos).

I was needlessly worried about taking lessons from a ByzCatholic priest.  He was very nice and knowledgeable.  When I asked to do my icon differently than what he was instructing (ie. putting the Greek letters in the nimbus versus gems and polka dots, adding the 9 lines in the in the nimbus, etc.) he had no problem and only reiterated that what I was asking was actually the correct way the icon should be "written".

I thoroughly enjoyed myself!  Having always been interested in iconography, I was thrilled to actually go through the steps myself.   

I recommend iconography to everyone!  It not only gives you a new appreciation for icons, but, for the Faith. 

When we began the icons, we prayed...but, not only that, we actually wrote prayers on the white gessoed board.  For example, if the icons are being made for a wedding couple, then their names are inscribed, if they are being written for someone or something in particular, a prayer for that person is written on the icon.  Gave me goosebumps.  I had to stop, and think.  I covered my icon with prayers (in Ukrainian, all along the borders and edge.)  I had read that a cross should be made on the icon wherever you think people might be kissing it, like Christ's shoulder, the corners, etc...  It was really a deep, spiritual experience for me.

Then we applied chaos.  It's a mix of brown and blue (God created the heavens and the earth)...and it get's applied all over the board as a base.  This represents that out of chaos God created order.  It was really, really inspiring.  Every step had spiritual meaning behind it.

Even the use of the egg as the base for the tempera (natural material) paints.  The egg represents life and resurrection.  Once the yolk was cleaned and emptied into a container then holy water would be added (three times as much as yolk - Trinity).  We used tap water.  To the mix was added vinegar to keep the egg from spoiling too quickly (the vinegar was given to Christ on the Cross).  Everything had spiritual meaning.

The room was silent - no music.  The priest said that he finds it is easier to focus for the new iconographers in a silent room.  More advanced will have liturgical music, or will actually chant.  He did encourage us to keep prayers in our minds, or hum a hymn that will stick and we will simply repeat in our heads - all in order to keep stray, earthly thoughts out of our minds.

It was an expensive course, but, I am so happy that I took it.  I highly recommend everyone try it.  I can't walk by an icon now, without stopping, and staring at it for a long time. 

I have always loved icons and what they represent, but, now, I have a new appreciation.

My priest was not available to bless my icon a week ago, and this last week I was anticipating the event like a huge celebration for me!  I was so honored to see my icon be taken up to the Altar.

What an honor!

Thank you to everyone for your encouragement and support!




Is that your parish in the background of the picture?
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« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2009, 01:04:22 PM »


^ Yes, that is the interior of my church in the background.

That's my home away from home!   Cheesy

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« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2009, 01:11:38 PM »

Liza, your icon is so beautiful-you are so talented! And you look so radiantly beautiful in the picture!
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+ Our dear sister Martha (Rosehip) passed away on Dec 20, 2010.  May her memory be eternal! +
LizaSymonenko
Слава Ісусу Христу!!! Glory to Jesus Christ!!!
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« Reply #30 on: October 12, 2009, 01:22:59 PM »



I was soooooo happy!      Cheesy
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Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
—St. Isaac of Syria
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« Reply #31 on: October 12, 2009, 01:40:25 PM »



I was soooooo happy!      Cheesy


Congrats!! Your icon is awesome!
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« Reply #32 on: October 12, 2009, 02:40:30 PM »

Great icon, indeed!
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HandmaidenofGod
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O Holy St. Demetrius pray to God for us!


« Reply #33 on: October 12, 2009, 02:45:14 PM »

Liza,

Congratulations! Your icon is beautiful and so is your parish, I would add!

You are truly talented! May God bless you and guide you in the writing of many icons in the years to come! Mnoyha Lita!

~Maureen
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"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jer 29:11
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