On our spiritual fathers and mothers

One thing that often sounds 'different' to Christians from some other traditions is the Orthodox practice of having a 'spiritual father' or indeed mother. This is a long-standing small-t tradition in Orthodoxy and part of it stems from our close connection to the monastic life. I found out very quickly that it was common for laity to visit monasteries (we use the same word for both male and female religious houses) regularly, particularly during or soon after Lent. This is tricky for those of us in Britain at the moment - not forever, I hope - as the main monastery is the Monastery of St John … [Read more...]

St John of Damascus: an icon & iconographer in progress.

One of the questions I've been asked in the last couple of weeks is: "wait, you're going on a course/retreat? aren't you able to, you know, just paint an icon already?"There are two answers and the short one is "Yes I am and yes I can" but that wouldn't really explain what I'm doing or be worth sharing with you.The second answer is Yes: My journey and ongoing growth as an iconographer means that I will never stop learning, changing, developing, praying for the life that means the icons are not simply copies or reproductions of images. Yes: I can paint icons already! No matter what saint a … [Read more...]

A New Icon: Christ and the Rich Young Ruler

This year I've been blessed with some unique commissions from outside the Orthodox Church - I love the opportunity to talk with Christians from other denominations and share our understanding of icons and the Gospel. One of these is the new icon of "Christ and the Rich Young Ruler" for the Dean of St John's Cathedral in Denver, Colorado, the very Rev. Charles LaFond. Most icons are commissioned, discussed and then go onto my waiting list. This one would have to be different and would have to jump the queue to be completed in time. Normally I would have said no straight away, but something … [Read more...]