Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The icon corner should have icons of Christ and the Theotokos ....

The first thing that should be done when an Orthodox Christian family moves into a new apartment or house is to determine which eastern wall or corner can be turned into the icon corner. This should not be a non-conspicuous place where the icons will be hidden from people's eyes, rather it should be a very prominent spot which all can see.

The icon corner should have icons of Christ and the Theotokos as well as icons of the saints for whom the family has particular devotion. Many times an Orthodox family chooses a particular saint to whom they wish to dedicate their family church, and place it under his or her protection. The icons in the icon corner of a family church dedicated to a saint will, of course, have an icon of the saint together with those of Christ and the Theotokos.

The icon corner will either have a small table or a shelf upon which may be placed prayer books, a hand censer, a bottle of holy water, a blessing-cross, the candles that the husband and wife held at their wedding, holy oil, palm branches and sometimes other religious objects. In front of the icons an oil lamp should perpetually burn.

Some families burn wax votive candles before the icons; however, the tradition is to burn olive oil. Electric lights are not appropriate for use as the light to burn before icons. The traditional oil lamps require an amount of attention which electricity does not, thereby directing our physical services and thoughts to God several times a day when we are required to trim the wick and refill the lamp with oil.

The use of pure olive oil may be objected to because of its high cost; however, God is beneficent to those who think first of spiritual matters and then of themselves. A family with which I am familiar had a multitude of problems, one of which was not enough money to purchase food.

The head of the family placed the household under the protection of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

As an offering of faith and love, the family's head promised that the lamp in the icon corner would burn only pure olive oil and that it would be allowed to go out only after there was no more food on the table and no money to buy either olive oil or food.

Because of the strong faith shown by the family head, the Theotokos has miraculously provided the family with enough money to purchase both olive oil and food for months on end.
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