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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/01newstucture/pagesru/sermons/torxhestvofrkonst.html (in Russian) Protopriest Michael Konstantinoff TRIUMPH OF ORTHODOXY
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 29, 2004
      (in Russian)

      Protopriest Michael Konstantinoff

      (from the series of sermons on Russian Radio in Australia)

      The dogma of icon veneration holds a special place among Christian dogmas
      and has a special historical significance. For over one hundred years, the
      iconoclastic heresy rent the Church of Christ. By the will of the
      iconoclastic emperors, holy icons were thrown out of churches, burned and
      destroyed, and the zealots of Orthodoxy were subjected to cruel
      persecution. Even the decision of the Seventh Ecumenical Council of 787,
      confirming the dogma of the veneration of icons, did not bring the Church
      the desired peace. Even fifty years after this Council, the heresy of
      iconoclasm continued to upset the Church, until the year 842, when the
      veneration of icons was universally restored. In memory of this event, the
      Church established that on the first Sunday of Great Lent every year, the
      ТTriumph of OrthodoxyУ is to be celebrated. The Seventh Ecumenical Council
      decreed that the existence of icons and their veneration is based by the
      Church not on Holy Scripture, which iconoclasts point to as containing no
      evidence in favor of icons, but on Holy Tradition. The first icon of the
      Savior, the Image-Not-Made-by-Hands, existed when the Holy Scripture of the
      New Testament had not yet existed. Holy Scripture itself is Holy Tradition
      laid down in writing. Over the first several decades of its history, the
      New Testament Church did not have Scripture, but lived only by Tradition.

      The Seventh Ecumenical Council confirmed the divine inspiration of icons,
      for the very same Holy Spirit Who inspires the teachings of the Apostles
      and Holy Fathers, appears and inspires icon-painting. In both instances,
      the source of inspiration is the same. This justifies calling the icon
      Тtheology in imagesУ on par with theology in words (Holy Scripture).

      The venerated icons from the first centuries of Christianity have not
      survived to our day, but church tradition speaks of them, as do historical
      references. The word ТiconУ comes from the Greek and means Тimage,У
      Тportrait.У In the history of the Church by Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea,
      who lived in the third century, we find the following: ТI saw many
      portraits of the Savior, of Peter and Paul, who survived to our day.У
      Eusebius also gave a detailed description of a statue of the Savior in the
      city of Paneas (Caesarea Philippi, Palestine), erected by the woman with an
      issue of blood.

      In examining the question of the veneration of icons, we must understand
      the difference between the image and that which is portrayed. An icon
      cannot be of the same substance as the subject, for then it would be the
      subject itself, for it would share the same nature. Honor bestowed upon an
      image is paid to the subject depicted by it. What was impossible to portray
      in the Old Testament becomes possible in the New, when God the Word, the
      Second Hypostasis of the Holy Trinity, Who is indescribable either by word
      or by image, but assumes man?s nature, is born of the Virgin Theotokos,
      remaining completely God, becoming completely Man, becoming visible,
      tangible, and consequently, describable. So the very existence of the icon
      is based on the Divine Incarnation. That is why in the eyes of the Church,
      the rejection of an icon of Christ is the rejection of the truth and the
      immutability of His very incarnation, and, consequently, the rejection of
      His plan for our salvation. At the Seventh Ecumenical Council, the Church
      condemned the iconoclastic heresy. In our day, there are still those who
      preach the heresy of iconoclasm and reject the veneration of holy icons.
      Let us pray the Lord that they Тcome into the true wisdomУ and that we
      become examples of the Orthodox Christian faith and life. Amen.

      Protopriest Michael Konstantinov*

      *Protopriest Michael Konstantinov has been rector of the Churches of
      Archangel Michael and St. George in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, for
      over 30 years.
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