A text by Archimandrite Boniface
For many years we have especially venerated during Lent a very impressive icon, placed upon the tetrapod to be kissed while entering or leaving the temple. In this icon, the suffering Lord Jesus stands before us, half enclosed in the tomb, in a state of utter pain and humiliation, with hands tied together and his sweet face expressing total surrender to the one who kisses Him. Behind Him, there looms a dark, life-size cross, while, in the upper corners of the icon, two angels display the instruments of the Passion. The whole scene dramatically expresses the extreme torment that our sins inflicted upon Him, for which He has but one answer: even greater love.
This divine pathos is expressed similarly in another sacred image, the “icon of the Virginal Lover”, in which the Bridegroom stands with hands bound, wearing the scarlet cloak of mockery and the thorny crown of His bloody nuptials as He prepares His Bride by atoning for our sin. While kissing it, we venerate his virginal flesh, so pitifully tormented in his love for us and that, by his passion, has conquered our sinful passions. We do this during all of Lent, in order to join Jesus in his fast in the desert and in his redeeming death on the cross, so that we might rise victorious with Him on Pascha.
These icons teach us the deep personal dimension of the paschal Mystery and of our whole living relation to Jesus, in answer to his personal love for each one of us, in a bridal relation of total mutual surrender. After all, this personal loving exchange is the core of true Christian faith, the real meaning of our lives, the constant wellspring of true happiness, a joy that is able to set the whole world afire.
Dear friend who reads this, does all this hold for you, too? That this may come true for you is our sincere wish for this year’s Pascha, from your friends, the monks at Mount Tabor Monastery, for you and all your beloved ones. How can we waver or keep silent when we know that Jesus, our true God and Savior, freely died out of love for us? Let us enter into that redeeming dynamism of constantly rising from sin and sheer earthliness into discipleship, putting our hand into the wound of the heart of our divine Lover, who was slain for us, out of love.