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Encyclical for the Sunday of Orthodoxy

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  • David-Constantine Wright
    SCOBA The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas 8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021 The honor rendered to the icon ascends
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2008
      The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the
      8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021

      "The honor rendered to the icon
      ascends to the Prototype."

      St. Basil the Great, "On the Holy Spirit"

      March 16, 2008
      The Feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy

      The Hierarchs of the Standing Conference
      of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas

      To all the Clergy and the Laity of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the

      Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

      We, the Hierarchs of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox
      Bishops in the Americas, greet you with one voice and with one heart on
      this great and grace-filled Feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the first
      Sunday of our yearly sojourn to the Holy Pascha. We stand together with
      you, who are the living icons of God, holding in our hands the icons
      whose very existence confirms that "the Word became flesh and dwelt
      among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the Only-Begotten of the
      Father, full of grace and truth" (St. John 1:14).

      We celebrate this day as a day of victory, as a day of triumph for the
      Orthodox Faith of Christ and restoration of the Sacred Icons to the
      Churches of the Faithful Christian People. Over eleven hundred years
      have passed since the generations of those Orthodox Christians who
      surrendered their liberties and their lives to save images composed of
      wood and paint. The controversy known as Iconoclasm, a period of 150
      convulsive years, was truly a proving-ground for our Orthodox Faith.
      Against those who treated the Sacred Icons as idols, the Church of
      Christ emerged victorious.

      As we affirm in the Synodikon of Orthodoxy, the Church has never
      worshipped idols. Such an accusation would be absurd, especially in
      view of the injunction of St. John, the Beloved Disciple: "Little
      children, guard yourselves against the idols." (I John 5:21). Rather,
      it has always been understood, as St. Basil the Great states so
      eloquently: "The honor rendered to the icon ascends to the Prototype."
      Thus the icons become points of entry to the Divine Presence –
      windows and doors opening onto Heaven itself. The honor, love and
      veneration that we render, is not rendered to the material elements
      from which the icon is composed. By the grace and power of God, they
      ascend to the prototype, the one who is represented. And inasmuch as
      every Saint of the Church reflects, as it were, the light of Christ
      Himself, the Prototype of every icon is Christ Himself, Who is " the
      Icon of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature" (Colossians
      1:15). Or to put it more simply, every icon is an icon of Christ, the
      real and momentous presence of God in our Midst, the God Who is with
      us, Emmanuel (cf. St. Matthew 1:23).

      This is our way of venerating the Icons that adorn our homes and the
      Temples of our Church Communities. Let us then, regardless of the
      material nature of the icons – whether they are hand-painted or
      printed, on wood or paper, covered in silver and gold or presented in a
      simple frame – let us venerate them with love and with spiritual
      ardor. And let us not forget that we too are “temples” as the
      Apostle Paul has said: "Do you not know that you are the Temple of God
      and the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16). So let us
      also give due respect to the icon within each one of us, the image of
      the Living God, as well as to all our bothers and sisters who bear the
      same image, and who dwell in the same Church.

      With paternal blessings and love in Christ,

      +Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
      Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

      +Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
      Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

      +Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
      Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada

      +Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos, Treasurer
      American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA

      +Metropolitan HERMAN
      Orthodox Church in America

      +Archbishop NICOLAE
      Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada

      +Metropolitan JOSEPH
      Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church

      +Metropolitan CONSTANTINE
      Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

      +Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
      Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America

      Forwarded by Rd. DC

      | Reader David-Constantine Wright |
      | constans_wright.tripod.com |
      | "God became Human so that human beings could become gods." |
      | ---- St. Athanasius the Great, *On the Incarnation* |

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