March 1, 2012
If you take some time to visit the reception room opposite the day chapel in the narthex, it will be hard not to notice something new. The very large icon there of the "Harrowing of Hell" is a gift to Saint Alphonsus Liguori from Saint Athanasius the Great Byzantine Catholic Church in Indianapolis. The youth from our parish youth ministry program attend the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom there once a year and perform community service at this inner-city parish.
The icon depicts the descent of Jesus into Hell on Holy Saturday in order to rescue the righteous of the Old Testament from the power of Satan. In the Apostles' Creed, we profess that Christ went down into Hell (ad inferna, literally the lower places). This article of our faith means that Our Lord went to the abode of the dead, which is distinct from the Hell of the damned, where righteous souls waited for the Redeemer to set them free from the power of sin and death which had prevented them from entering into Heaven.
Thanks to the pastor of Saint Athanasius, Father Sidney Sidor, who also gifted the Nativity icon in Weitzel Hall to our parish. The permanent location of these icons will be determined once the parish building project is completed in the fall.
What is an icon?
Here are definitions from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
(1160) Religious painting traditional among many Eastern Christians. Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words.
(1162) The contemplation of sacred icons united with mediation on the Word of God and the singing of Liturgical Hymns, enters into the harmony of the signs of celebration so that the mystery celebrated is imprinted in the heart’s memory and is then expressed in the new life of the faithful.
(1192) Sacred images in our churches and homes are intended to awaken and nourish our faith In the mystery of Christ. Through the icon of Christ and his works of salvation, it is he whom we adore. Through sacred images of the holy Mother of God, of the angels and of the saint, we venerate the persons represented.