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fr peter gillquist

Do Icons Really Matter?

by the late Archpriest Peter E. Gillquist
Originally from The WORD magazine, February 1990, reprinted in DIAKONIA Spring 2013

Shortly after we moved to Santa Barbara, California, we re-decorated the house, painting the living room and papering the dining room. As we moved the table and chairs back into the dining area, along with the antique hutch that lined up against the west wall, I began to ponder what should go on the wall opposite the hutch. The space was somewhat limited.

Wait a minute, I thought to myself That’s the east wall. Let me find an icon of Christ and another of Mary for either side of the window.

From early times Christians would establish an “icon corner” in their homes, preferably using a corner on the east wall — east being the traditionally biblical direction from which the Son of Righteousness would appear at His second advent. Though this would technically not be an icon corner, I did want to establish the Lord’s presence in our dining room.

As I mounted those two images of Christ and His Mother the following day, I also hung a small presence light, a votive candle in a holder, over the icon of Christ — for He is the light of the world. From that time on, we would light the candle during mealtimes when the family gathered around the table for dinner.

GUESTS CAME TO CALL

A few months later, a good friend who heads a Christian writer’s guild, called to say that he and his wife, would be in Santa Barbara in a few weeks to conduct an evening seminar for local writers. Would Marilyn and I care to join them for the meeting? “Yes,” I told Norm. “And why don’t you come early and have dinner with us here at the house beforehand?”

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