Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunday of Orthodoxy

Yesterday was the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy over the heresy of iconoclasm (and over all other heresies).

I grew up an iconoclast. I just know that had I lived back then, I would have been an iconoclast. There were such heavy abuses going on, not taught by the Church, but nevertheless engaged in by the populace. I would surely have wished to “destroy the idols,” oblivious to the fact that you can’t just destroy whatever is abused or you’d rid yourself of absolutely everything.

A saint is someone who has outstandingly succeeded in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit and thus allowing God to live the Divine Life in his body. Each saint, therefore, is a unique and precious expression of God. Each is a prism reflecting the Divine Light in a unique way. That is why we honor and love the saints.

And that is why we venerate their icons; each one is in reality an icon of Christ with a different face. And as we believe He is always with us, so in Him are all the saints with us.

If I wish to kiss St. Paul in greeting on a Sunday morning, as I greet other fellow-worshipers, well, St. Paul is not here in the body for me to do it. If I want to weep all over the Lord’s feet like that other sinful woman, well, His feet are not visible to me. But His icon is, and St. Paul’s icon is. So I kiss them both to satisfy love’s promptings.

The Lord is glorious in His saints. And that this is true should surprise nobody, for it is as He Himself wished and prayed, “And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I am glorified in them.” and again, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one:” (John 17:10, 22)

So on this Sunday we carry almost as many icons as possible in procession, and we read portions of The Synodicon (decree of the Holy Synod, 7th Ecumenical Council) including this favorite excerpt:

As the prophets have seen,
as the apostles have taught,
as the Church has received
as the teachers have set forth in dogmas,
as the whole world has understood,
as Grace has shone forth,
as the truth was demonstrated,
as falsehood was banished,
as wisdom was emboldened,
as Christ has awarded;
thus do we believe, thus we speak,
thus we preach Christ our true God and His saints,
honoring them in words, in writings, in thoughts,
in sacrifices, in temples, and in icons,
worshipping and respecting the One as God and Master,
and honoring the others,
and apportioning veneration to them,
because of our common Master
for they are His genuine servants,
This is the Faith of the apostles,
this is the Faith of the fathers,
this is the Faith of the Orthodox,
this is the Faith that sustains the whole world.



Christopher D. Hall said...


I have read much on the Iconoclasm Controversy, but not much on the "horrible abuses" that were happening then. I've read the rationale for iconoclasm must have come from Islamic sources, not on account of abuses by Christians. Can you share some more info?