If you are Orthodox and poor, or perhaps not even Orthodox, but someone appreciative of icons, then this video post is for you. If you aren’t familiar with icons I recommend reading my short blog on why Orthodox Christians use them. Nonetheless, the Orthodox family has what we call “The Beautiful Place” in their home. This can be a corner or a wall facing east towards Jerusalem, but it is to be the main focus point of the home once someone enters it. I have come to see the Beautiful Place as the family’s own altar. Of course it is not the same type of altar as in the sanctuary at a parish that the priest uses, but the Orthodox family is the domestic Church. Thus the Beautiful Place is in many ways the husband’s/father’s altar where he is to guide his family spiritual and to present their prayers before God.
Over at the Orthodox Christian Information Center, they have some great advice on icon corners:
The first thing that should be done when an Orthodox Christian family moves into a new apartment or house is to determine which eastern wall or corner can be turned into the icon corner. This should not be a non-conspicuous place where the icons will be hidden from people’s eyes, rather it should be a very prominent spot which all can see. The icon corner should have icons of Christ and the Theotokos as well as icons of the saints for whom the family has particular devotion. Many times an Orthodox family chooses a particular saint to whom they wish to dedicate their family church, and place it under his or her protection. The icons in the icon corner of a family church dedicated to a saint will, of course, have an icon of the saint together with those of Christ and the Theotokos.
The icon corner will either have a small table or a shelf upon which may be placed prayer books, a hand censer, a bottle of holy water, a blessing-cross, the candles that the husband and wife held at their wedding, holy oil, palm branches and sometimes other religious objects. In front of the icons an oil lamp should perpetually burn. Some families burn wax votive candles before the icons; however, the tradition is to burn olive oil. Electric lights are not appropriate for use as the light to burn before icons. The traditional oil lamps require an amount of attention which electricity does not, thereby directing our physical services and thoughts to God several times a day when we are required to trim the wick and refill the lamp with oil.”
I hope that this video will guide you on how to make your own icons in a very affordable way. I know that icons are very expensive and cost a lot of money, but there are ways to make icons for private use (NOTE: these are not for sale or re-sale; icons are often made by artists and that is how they make money. I don’t encourage selling them)! This is an easy, affordable way to make a home altar for your family to worship and prayer together.
The link to the video can be found here. Facebook states that anyone with or without Facebook should be able to view the video. Please comment and let me know if you have trouble with it.