Powerful Lessons from a Living Icon

Mar 21, 2016 Comment(s) Tags: ,

I was reading about the life of Saint Chad, abbot and bishop of the Northumbrians and Mercians in 7th century Ireland. He viscerally reminded me of my yiayia, who taught me long ago by her example.

Whenever a huge, terrifying storm sprang up, St. Chad would prostrate himself in prayer and call on God to have pity on humanity. He would also sing psalms until the storm subsided.

St. Chad explained that storms are sent by God to remind humans of the Day of Judgment, and to humble their pride.

I remember when I was living with my yiayia and tremendous lightning storms would rage outside. She would get down on her knees in her entryway, arms raised up to heaven, and make the sign of the cross, imploring God to keep us all safe.

I would also pass her bedroom on the way to mine, and see her, through the crack in the door, on her knees in her closet. Again her arms upraised, she was praying before her icon of the Panagia. And now I think of her whenever I read the Gospel of Matthew, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

I was young and didn’t know what to think about her actions then, but I see now that she was an icon, showing me, the one who will always be illiterate in faith and humility compared to her, who hadn’t yet begun to read about the saints and the scriptures, some of the essence of our faith.

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Tom Mitrakos is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh…
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