Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Icons as useful aids for attaining holiness

Brethren, Peace and Good to you in our Lord Jesus Christ. I was asked the following question by a dear Orthodox Christian sister in a forum I participate. I want to share both the question and my answer with all of you:

…with your suggestion of discussing what happens when we venerate holy icons, and given that we agree that to venerate the icon is to draw near to the person in the image, then the question remains how does drawing near to Christ, the Theotokos, and the Saints affect us.

I’ll be brief for a change. I think that becoming holy is to become fully human and that when we become holy, we are able to take off the masks we present to others, the masks of our pretenses, of the ideals promulgated by our Pagan culture. We are able to show ourselves to others as who we are, in all of our depths, in the reality that God meant us to be from eternity.

The iconographer recognizes this fact; he or she has the gift to see the holy ones as they truly are now, shining with inner light in eternity. With economy of form and movement, the iconographer captures the inner depths and the outer symmetries of the holy one who is now fully what God intended him to be.

The iconodule or “icon venerator” (you and me, I hope) recognizes that we are meant to be subjects for a future iconographer. We need to reflect the Glory of God in Jesus in ourselves, by being the man or woman God intended us to be from eternity, before sin marred us. Our duty of sorts is to be a subject for an iconographer and through the exchange, to become examples for others to emulate.

That’s why icons appeal so much to me, why I treasure and venerate them, and become closer in the Body of Christ to those whom the icon re-presents to us on earth.