ICON OF THE ENCOUNTERS OF MARRIED COUPLES
Remain in my love (Jn. 15:9b)
Lord Jesus, please endow our marriage with the gift of dialogue. Help me to hear my husband/wife out better, help us to understand each other better, help us to share what is inside us and, first of all, to forgive each other. Give us gentleness and sensitivity in our conversations and make them lead us to a true encounter with each other and with you. Please help us to receive and accept each other more and more fully and to make a unity in which we will both remain ourselves. Please heal all the difficult matters that divide us and let us enjoy our marriage and always remain in your love. Amen.
STORY OF THE ICON OF THE ENCOUNTERS OF MARRIED COUPLES
I have long had a need for an icon for the Encounters of Married Couples, one that would complement marital dialogue shown in Wacław Sobieraj’s painting. When in 2004 I saw the works of Ventzislav Piriankow, a Bulgarian painter working in Poland, I found he would be able to render the essence of the encounter that results from the dialogue promoted by the Encounters of Married Couples. I visited the painter at his studio on December 11th, 2004 and gave him a number of suggestions concerning the message and symbolism of the Icon. He thought I was asking him to do the impossible: it would need not one but several paintings to convey all I was asking for. Still, he agreed to try. When I collected the Icon on April 4th, 2005, I could read from it all that I had intended to be depicted in it. The symbols used in it open possibilities of further interpretations and give opportunity to meditate on one’s own marriage in a very individual and personal way. (Jerzy Grzybowski)
The Icon was consecrated by archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, metropolitan archbishop of Poznań, at the 11th International Convention of the Animators of the Encounters of Married Couples held in Poznań in 2005. We invite all married and engaged couples to pray to Jesus, through the Icon, for the gift of dialogue and so, for remaining in his love.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ICON OF THE ENCOUNTERS OF MARRIED COUPLES
The Icon depicts the encounter of husband and wife with each other and with Christ. When put together, the husband and wife’s profiles make the face of Christ who says to them: Now remain in my love (Jn. 15:9b). Christ remains in the married couple. And we, as a married couple, remain in his love through dialogue with each other and with him, through dialogue that leads to an encounter.
Christ’s face is not necessarily clearly visible from the beginning. It is like in real life when sometimes it is hard to see Christ in a marriage. Christ reveals himself gradually, he does not impose himself, but he is there. The cross inscribed within the halo, according to the principles of Byzantine iconography, makes the Icon explicitly Christ-centred. The arms of the cross are placed at the level of the couple’s heads. They carry the cross together but each of them experiences it individually.
The Icon depicts symbolic and mystic reality. The calm, spiritual peace and dignity of the couple shown in the Icon create favourable conditions for fruitful dialogue, while they themselves are a fruit of dialogue, too. The Icon symbolizes a marriage about which Jesus says: ’So they are no longer two, but one’ (Mt. 19:6), both in the spiritual and physical sense. It symbolizes a communion of persons. The marriage in the Icon is a model for a marriage in Christ. It symbolizes the sacrament of matrimony as Christ’s gift that is realized through dialogue and so it makes the human love of husband and wife more perfect, strengthens their indissoluble unity and sanctifies them on their way to eternal life. For those who can read and accept it, it is the Icon of Christ who is the source of marital dialogue and who is present in the married couple. (Irena and Jerzy Grzybowski, September 23rd, 2005)