Beloved brothers in Christ,
The first Sunday of Holy Lent is dedicated to the victory of the Orthodox faith over heresies. The Holy Fathers who gathered in the Ecumenical Councils between the 4th and the 8th centuries have established the correct teaching about the divinity of the Son of God and of the Holy Spirit as well as the true veneration of the icons. The Sunday of Orthodoxy reminds us about this struggle against and victory over heretics, victory that is concentrated in the reestablishment of the veneration of icons.
The icon is a window toward the Absolute that reveals to us the transfigured world, the world of those who partake of the divine grace and bring us this transfiguration, namely holiness. The representation of saints in the icons, following the representation of the Savior, is justified by the Incarnation of the Word of God: „And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) But the icon is based not only on the Incarnation of the Son of God, but also on His Resurrection. Without Christ’s Resurrection the icon would not be a representation of the transfigured life but only a commemorative painting. This means that the icon brings God among us and raises us to the understanding of our life as participation in the divine life. This is the Christian life revealed by the icon, namely the restored human person as the image of God, the human person who tends toward holiness, that is toward the shining on his face of God’s image.
Such an understanding of the icon helps to comprehend the mystery of our life and that of our neighbor. Christ and the saints look at us from the icons and exhort us to have a pure look. We are supposed to extend this pure look toward our neighbor. Thus the icon becomes an eficient teacher for the Christian life.
The Sunday of Orthodoxy is dedicated not only to the correct faith, but also to the correct Christian living. Those who err still consider the icon an idol that deserves no veneration. In this world of appearances and false lights the icon teaches us to „drive” towards depths and to discover the true meanings of our life and of the world. At this beginning of Lent, there cannot be a more useful exhortation than to try to rediscover the meaning of the icon in order to be aware of our Christian living.
I address to all of you wishes of peace and spiritual joy, of greater strenghts in order to worthily climb up the stairs of Holy Lent toward the light-giving Resurrection.
+ Metropolitan NICOLAE