March 1, 2015 -
“PROCLAIMING OUR RELIGIOUS HERITAGE”
On the first Sunday of the Great Fast, the Church observes the victory of the veneration of icons and proclaims One True Faith, particularly the doctrine of the Incarnation. The two are involved in this proclamation.
There had been a struggle in the Church over the place of icons or images. “God is Spirit,” and cannot be depicted in any materialistic fashion, said the opponents of icons. But the defenders of images answered, “This is exactly the point. God is Spirit and cannot be portrayed; but God became Man, and as God-Man, Jesus Christ, He is to be portrayed.” So at the heart of the struggle over icons was the basic truth of the faith: that Christ is God who became Man, the Incarnation.
And so, finally, in the year 843 on the First Sunday of the Great Lent, the veneration of icons was solemnly proclaimed. The icon of the observance in particular was the image of Christ made without hands. Our bulletin is graced with this image, “The Holy Mandilion,” meaning the icon of the Lord on cloth. In sharp distinction from other images, it depicts only the face of Our Lord. The expression is quite serene yet piercing, embodying the serious nature of His mission: to seek and save the lost.
In our day, this Sunday’s observance goes beyond the proclamation of the rightful role of iconography in the Church. It is now more of a public manifestation of the Faith. It is the day when Christians of various jurisdictions gather in worship to proclaim to the community the vitality of their Faith in Christ, God and Man, Saviour of the world. They gather to witness that the church of the old world is alive in the new.