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Veneration of Icons

How to Venerate Icons

In venerating an icon, we make the sign of the Cross, then kiss the icon, and once more make the sign of the Cross with a metanoia.or 3x for Christ! We should kiss the feet or hand of Christ or, in the case of the popular icon "Not-made-by-hands" (Mandylion), the hair (never the face). Icons of the Theotokos and saints are reverenced on their hands. During lenten seasons, metanias are replaced by prostrations.

Out of respect for the Commandment against graven images, Orthodox Icons avoid strongly three dimensional effects. The Perspective is flattened or even inversed. Hagiographers who write the Icons do so in a prayerful state.

According to Tradition, as most Orthodox Christians know, the first "images" or icons were painted by St. Luke--and some of these (of the Mother of God holding Christ as a Child) survive to this day and are greatly venerated. In addition, the walls of the Roman catacombs provide a dazzling and moving display of sacred art: these fresco-icons depict Christ and the truths of our Faith from Scripture and Tradition; not surprisingly ,they also show the Mother of God holding the Christ-child, certain early martyrs, and various Sacraments (such as the Eucharist, Baptism, etc.). Some of these date from the end of the first century, when certain Apostles and disciples were still living. It is said that it would be possible for a non-Christian to understand many deep things about Christianity simply by walking through these wonderful underground passageways. One modern scholar has made the interesting observation that these early icons show how the first Christians "were accustomed to consider themselves not so much as individuals but rather as members of the Church." (The Roman Catacombs and Their Martyrs).

The veneration of icons is not directed at the physical icon but at the prototype of which the image was a symbol. With regards to the representation of Christ, St. John of Damascus the defender of Images, argued that it was right to represent Christ in human form because He became incarnate, He "became visible in the flesh.

Reasons Why Images Should Be Used in the Church and Receive Veneration

Romans 1:19-20 understand the invisible through the visible
Through the incarnation of Christ the invisible God was made visible.
Christians do not honor their images as "living things or gods" but as ‘types and signs of God and his beloved saints"
Images help people remember Christ just as the cross helps us to remember why jesus died for us
Images were given to people by the apostles and St. Luke
Being seen daily the people will more frequently serve and offer thanks to God
Images serve as a reminder of their great lives
Images in churches help to distinguish the buildings from other buildings
Christ created the first image, therefore validating the use of such images in church
Images aid devotion and they serve as stimulation for a life of devotion
Images help instruct the laity and direct them to the saints
I mages help people who are unable to read or attend church and are an extension of the church
The physical presence of images acts as a signifier to people giving them the opportunity to engage God
Icons can help a person to stay focused on thier prayers
Eusebius, Augustine, Jerome and Ambrose include the use of images in their writings and make them a costume of the church.
Prayer by the saints will help people gain the end reward
God and the saints will be greatly honored by the people if they are seen daily
For people’s spiritual comfort and salvation
The more people are devoted to the saints the more people will pray
Images receive praise because they "challenge the faithful to imitation…They invite and challenge the faithful to live chastely, piously, and in a truly Christian way in imitation of what they see"
Images of the serpent (Numbers 21:8) does not argue against images but for images

Being Inside of the Korennaya Hermitage Is Like Entering Into a Open Bible.

Every square foot in the Church is covered with Icons about stories from the Bible. They start as you enter the entry way into the church and you see Adam and Eve in the garden. Even with not speaking the langauge you have all the Icons to remind you of all the Bible stories. Many years ago with no mass written Bibles only the Orthodox Church or the very rich had a bible. Its no wonder that Icons were so inportant to Christains just as the Bible is such a great tool for us now and most everyone has one or more of them. Some people even keep thier childhood bibles from thier youth.

Images were the spiritual and salvific "post-it notes" of the sixteenth-century. It is also like computer window that you look and click on photos to see what is inside of the next window. Icons are known as windows into Heaven.

I was told a story about a Orthodox Christain parent explaining to his child about Icons. His child was asking about what Icons were and to show him better one parent went outside and looked thru the window. The Child could see her dad but was not able to talk to him, but he was there but the barrier between them was keeping them apart. Just as the Icon is a image and we are seperated by a barrier until God reunite us and takes the barrier away.

Seeing the images, people will remember to pray and honor icons, providing a sense of spiritual comfort and salvation. They represent a catophatic tradition that engages the full use of images. Images remind, stimulate, and honor within a religious context and help one encounter God. They engage God by hearing the word instead of seeing the word.

The word of God can be proclaimed several ways. Two such ways are the spoken word and the visual word. The spoken word is last only a short time, it is heard and then it gone. Words do not all stay long enough for most everyone to remember. The visual word is make evident or certain by showing or displaying it in visual art. It stays intact so one can meditate on it. It is a concrete, physical object that is not going to go anywhere. In doing so it can be studied, reflected upon, and reinterpreted through reproductions.

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