Friday, July 20, 2012

For the feast of St. Elias (a.k.a. Elijah)

I painted this icon of Elias for my son
a couple of years ago at St. Andrew Rublev
Iconography School in Indianapolis.
I am quite fond of St. Elias. His icon is interesting for a number of reasons. He is usually shown with a red background rather than the usual gold, which represents the fire of the Holy Spirit who spoke through him and of the fiery chariot which took him to heaven. It is also interesting because it is the only icon I have ever seen of a person who has not experienced death. 

Today is the feast of St. Elias, my son's name day, and my sister's birthday. It is a day important to me personally for a number of reasons. 

Six years ago today, my wife was in the hospital. She was pregnant with our son and she was experiencing contractions far too early. I left her side for some time to attend the Divine Liturgy at our parish for this feast day and to pray for her and our son. 

The troparion of the day, which we sang over and over again as the priest blessed our cars, reminded me that John the Baptist had come in the spirit and the power of Elias and that, just as John was the Forerunner of the Lord, so Elias was the second forerunner of the Lord. We had been planning on naming the baby after John but we had not been able to decide on a middle name. I took this as an inspiration and we named our boy John Elias. 

My beloved, still pregnant, safely left the hospital not too long after this. Ultimately, she went into labor a month early. The delivery was as difficult as the pregnancy had been. The doctors threatened an emergency caesarean. There was a great deal of blood. My wife and I prayed the Jesus Prayer together throughout much of the ordeal. As he was being born, John Elias’ head applied pressure just exactly where it was needed to prevent a placental abruption. He was safely, miraculously born. It was the only time in my life I have wept for joy. 

At this same time, my father was sick with colon cancer. We brought John Elias home to meet him. He said to the boy, “you’re coming and I’m going, but there are similarities between us.” He died shortly after. Had John Elias been born when he was due, he’d never have met his grandfather.

These mercies I attribute, in part, to the intercession of St. Elias and I ask his continued prayers for my family and yours.

This video shows the gradual development of the icon of St. Elias.

No comments:

Most Popular Posts this Month

Most Popular Posts of All Time