The Ascension of the Lord (2010)

The development of a separate celebration of Christ’s Ascension on the fortieth day after Easter began in Syria and Asia Minor during the latter part of the fourth century, and seems to have become almost universal practice by the seventh or eighth centuries…The understanding of the Church set forth in the Ascension icon is succinctly expressed by Paul Evdokimov: “Christ is the head of the Church, the Mother of God is its image, and the apostles are its foundation.”  The icon expresses the sovereignty of Christ over his Church; he is its Head, its guide, its source of inspiration and teaching; it receives its commission and ministry from him, and fulfils it in the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Mother of God, as the image of the Church, stands under Christ.  She from whom the Incarnate Son took his humanity stands rooted on the earth in the midst of the apostles, with her hands raised in the gesture of the orant, signifying prayer and intercession; Mary intercedes for humanity, and in this she embodies an important aspect of the Church’s vocation—to intercede, to be the mediating channel of divine grace and love in a fallen world.  Mary represents the holiness of the Church, which already shares the divine life and knows the reality of Christ’s triumph over sin and death.        (John Baggley,Festival Icons for the Christain Year, 134, 138)