Icons have long fascinated me, and I have often heard how they are written and not drawn, and how they require spiritual discipline to produce. But it was not until I read Michael Schrauzer’s excellent essay on iconography (Eyes to See, July/August 2007) that I gained any real understanding of what those notions meant: that an icon is "not the invention of painters, but the result of the . . . approved tradition of the Church"; that an iconographer "must be humbly obedient to the tradition he has received," a tradition "that is the equal of written Tradition, or Scripture." It was not until I read Schrauzer’s essay that I understood the point of the abstracted imagery, the way the iconographer seeks to portray "a supernatural reality that transcends time and space" by eliminating shadow, portraying multiple events simultaneously, flattening images, etc. And it was not until she read the essay that my wife Deirdre found a way to explain her initial distaste toward and gradual warming to iconographic images. What struck her as odd from an aesthetic sensibility eventually became attractive as a spiritual one.
Schrauzer’s essay was remarkably clear, expressive, and illuminating, and we are both grateful to have read it. Schrauzer closed by noting that "there is much more to be said about icons." I sincerely hope that he will take up the task in future issues of This Rock.
La Mesa, California
I thoroughly enjoyed Christopher Check’s piece on the Cristeros uprising in Mexico. It always amazes me to consider that even in an overwhelmingly Catholic country such as Mexico, the remnants of the Constitution of 1917 and Calles Law of 1926 had an effect even to recent times. As with all persecutions, the Holy Spirit bears fruit. One of the most inspiring fruits of the Cristeros was that of Fr. Marciel Maciel, LC of Cotija. In reading the history of the Legion, it
is clear that martyrs like Joe Sanchez del Rio had a tremendous impact on Fr. Maciel. We witness the fruit of that with over 600 priests and 2,500 seminarians faithful to the Church and the Holy Father and a lay movement (Regnum Christi) that requires of its faithful a life of
charity, prayer, and apostolate. Having had my life changed by my experience with these Legionary priests, brothers, and consecrated men and women I can only thank God for the witness of Jose Sanchez del Rio and the others willing to die for their faith. Viva Cristo Rey!
God’s Face—and Feet
I liked the September issue of This Rock, especially that you saw fit to include a close-up of the face of Jesus from the Call of Matthew from the church of St. Louis of France in Rome (Eyes to See, September 2007). I have long loved and admired that painting for the intensity in the gaze of Jesus. You get to see his bare feet in the full painting, though, which makes him look even tougher.
A Contrarian Grammarian
Someone needs to take Pete Vere and the editor who handled his article to the woodshed ("Keep It Together," September 2007). There they should write 500 times the following mantra: "It's immune to, not immune from."
Editor’s reply: The statement in question is entirely acceptable. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage clarifiies: "In general, when immune is used with a preposition, from and to appear about equally. . ." The American Heritage Dictionary concurs; however, the editors will no doubt have further opportunities to visit the woodshed.