The Icon: Sacred Space
The power of an icon lies in the sacred presence it invites us into as we pray and read the image before us. (Iconographers use the word written instead of painted because icons are considered another way of writing the gospel message. Therefore, instead of simply looking at an icon, we read it). When we place ourselves before an icon in the attitude of prayer and reflection, we are invited into a spiritually charged space of divine energy. The face of Our Mother of Perpetual Help has this effect on those who pray before her. Her penetrating gaze tends to pull us into the sacred space of this particular image as she invites us to penetrate deeply into the mystery of the living Christ. The icon presents the mystery of Jesus’ incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection and the effect these mysteries have on us. In this way, icons are living, vibrating modes of divine energy.
Reading from Scriptures as you pray before the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help enhances the spiritual quality of your prayer. As you approach the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual help in this reflective way, I invite you to read the Canticle of Mary from the Gospel of Luke: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit re- joices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him” (1:46–50).