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The Icon Project: Praying for Your Parish

July 04, 2024

Hello everyone! I hope that you all are having a blessed holiday with your friends and family. I wanted to share something that we recently started at my local parish, a “Traveling Icon Prayer Ministry”.

Sometime back in February, our priest came to our home to perform the yearly house blessing. After the blessing had concluded, we sat down to enjoy dinner together, and he told us about a practice that he had recently heard about from the congregants of another local parish.

Several weeks prior, he had gone to visit a friend of his who had fallen ill – a man who attends another local parish, St. John’s. While they were visiting, the man’s wife returned from the church, bringing with her a small wooden box containing a wooden stand, a handmade sash, and an icon of Deisis. Removing the items from the box, she placed the icon onto the stand and draped the sash over it, and placed it in their prayer corner.

She explained that each Sunday following Liturgy, the icon is passed from one family to another. Whichever family has the duty for that week takes the icon home with them and places it in their icon corner, or in some other common area in their home. In doing so, they also assume the task of praying for their parish in the morning and evening throughout that week. Come next Sunday, the family returns the icon to the church, where it would be assumed by the next family, and the process starts over again.

Hearing all of this, my priest was struck with the idea, and went to speak with Father David to discuss further. With the goal of incorporating the same practice at our parish, he noted five things that would be needed:

It was here, over dinner, that Father Stephen proposed to my wife and I the task of gathering these items for our parish. We agreed, and were both excited to take ownership of his request. He made it clear that we were free to select any icon we felt was appropriate, though he did encourage us to select something that may, in some way, reflect our prayer for the community. He also tasked us with finding a stand and a carrying case that would suit the icon. He would take the responsibility of supplying a written prayer.

The sash is a little more interesting. According to Father David, it’s traditionally the case in many eastern European cultures that the colors and patterns displayed on the sash can be used to identify the general geographic region, or in some cases the exact village or city, where the sash was made. Fortunately, Father David happened to have a small stash of sashes on-hand, and was willing to supply one to our cause.

Grafted into Christ.

After a few weeks of scrolling through the entirety of Legacy Icons several times, my wife and I stumbled across the icon of Christ of the Vine. We thought that this icon would be a great fit for our purpose, and Father Stephen agreed, so he placed an order. Several days later, the icon arrived and he blessed it during the Liturgy on the Sunday before Lent.

One of my friends also happened to have a small pouch that, by sheer coincidence, actually had the icon of Christ of the Vine embroidered on it! And it happened to be just the right size to fit the icon, sash, stand, and card, perfectly. Providence!

The prayer card that Father Stephen supplied includes the standard evening prayers, but also includes a short introduction to the “Traveling Icon Prayer Ministry”, along with a prayer to be said especially for the community of the faithful. It begins:

Thank you for your participation in this special ministry! The goals of this ministry are:

  • To increase prayer in the homes of our faithful by having this icon visit each household.
  • To increase devotion to Our Lord, His Most-Pure Mother, and out church’s patron Saints.
  • To encourage us to pray for our area, our church, and our fellow faithful – our brothers and sisters in Christ.

By having this “Traveling Icon” in your home, you are committing to offering these prayers once per day. They can either be recited by everyone together, or family members can take turns. These prayers can be said at any time of the day that is convenient for everyone.

The prayer for the community reads:

O Heavenly Father, we humbly beseech You to send Your Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of the people of [REDACTED] and our entire region. We ask You to encourage them to seek the living truth – Your Son, Jesus Christ – and His holy Church. We pray that their hearts may be turned away from the temptations of this world and from the words of false teachers. We also pray for ourselves, that our hearts would not be hardened to the Gospel, but that we would be living lights and representatives of our Savior. We pray for our church of [REDACTED] – with it’s clergy and faithful and their families – that it may be a true haven of rest, encouragement and hope for all who call it home. And we pray that all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in our region may be one, even as You and Your Son and the Holy Spirit are one. Amen.

If your parish has a ministry like this, I would love to hear about it. If not, why not consider forwarding this article to your priest?

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