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Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock

Icon Holy Card

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PCA520 Package of 25 icon holy cards


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3 x 5

Item Details:

This icon was inspired by the text of Revelation 3:20 as depicted in the familiar painting Christ at Heart’s Door by Warner Sallman. Although the subject is unique for an icon, it is presented in conventional iconographic imagery. Christ’s stance and shape denote movement, showing that his arrival is urgent. The door is without a handle. He will not force His way in—we must open and let Him in. It is also quite small, as are our hearts much of the time. This icon appeals to us to accept Jesus into our lives, as well as to undergo daily conversion.

Icon holy cards are 3" x 5", a convenient size for use as gifts or bookmarks. The backs are blank except for a faint colophon at the bottom, leaving plenty of room for custom imprinting with your own message.

Image Origins

This image is taken from the Book of Revelation, “ Behold! I stand at the door and knock; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and dine with you, and you with me” (Rev. 3:20). Abbot Joseph Wood, ninth abbot of Mount Angel Abbey asked Br. Claude Lane if he had ever seen a depiction of the text in traditional iconographic style. He replied that he had not, but was familiar with Warner Sallman’s 1942 painting called Christ at Heart's Door. This is an image that Abbot Joseph knew and loved from his days as a Methodist. Indeed, Sallman was the "iconographer" of American Protestantism from the 1920s through the 1950s. In 2000 Br. Claude created a pattern of this image for his icon class at Mount Angel Seminary. At the end of the term he and his students produced this image as a gift for Abbot Joseph. Br. Claude executed the more difficult parts.

Theology and Symbolism

This icon was inspired by the text of Revelation as depicted in Sallman’s painting Christ at Heart's Door, but it translates his work into iconographic style with traditional colors, inverse-perspective and emotional restraint devoid of sentimentality. Br. Claude has done in paint what the Bible does in words. The scene is done in inverse-perspective, a technique used in iconography that stands in contrast with the two-point perspective of Renaissance art. Unlike the latter, which depicts objects closer to the viewer as larger in size, this style reverses the perspective to draw one into the icon. It has the effect of keeping the viewer at a distance, unable to enter the heavenly realm. The figure of Christ casts no shadow because he emanates light; in fact, the dark background allows Christ’s divine radiance to be the focus. The tree in the distance can be seen as an allusion to the Gospel text in which Jesus proclaims, “ every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17). This verse compliments the quotation from Revelation that stirs us to a stance of openness to Christ in our lives. Christ’s pose is full of movement, showing the dynamism of the Christian life. The Christian is not meant to be stagnant, nor is Jesus’ coming to be met with a sluggish response. The shape of His body (full in the middle and tapering at head and feet) gives Him a weightless character, so that while He is fully human, He has a glorified body. Jesus’ red and blue clothing represent His “humanity cloaked in divinity.” The high forehead (seat of wisdom), thin nose and relatively large eyes create mystical appearance that draws one in to the Holy Face. The circular strands of hair represent the endless flow of time. Christ's halo, the iconographic symbol for sanctity, is inscribed with a cross and the Greek letters omicron, omega, nu, spelling "HO ON." In English, this becomes "The Existing One," the second half of the name used for God in Exodus 3:14 which is traditionally translated from Hebrew to English as "I Am Who Am." The abbreviated Greek form of the name Jesus Christ, "IC XC,” appears around the head of Our Lord. The face is the “true icon” and thus the name appears there. Finally, in His hand He holds a scroll, showing His dominion over all. One should notice that the door is without a handle. Jesus will not force His way in—we must open from the inside and allow Him to enter. The door is quite small, symbolic of the fact that our hearts are also sometimes quite small. Not only does this icon prompt us to accept Jesus into our lives, but also—as an image which is eternal and ever dynamic—it reminds us that our lives are in need of constant conversion. Christ continually offers us grace and we must freely choose to accept His gift. When using this icon as an aid to prayer, one is reminded to have an open heart that Jesus may enter and transform us from within.

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