Monday, November 28, 2016

The Importance of Venerating Icons

Icons play a significant role in our life within the Church. Without them, an Orthodox Church seems to be stripped of its Tradition, its faith, its practice, its way of life. Venerating them, therefore, is an integral part of our daily worship, both at home and at the Church. We read in the Spiritual Meadow of our holy father, Soprhonius, Archbishop of Jerusalem, a beautiful story, examining the importance of venerating icons and how we should never stop to venerate and pray to the icons we have.

‘Abba Theodore the Aeliote said that there was on the Mount of Olives a certain recluse, a great fighter; and the demon of fornication waged battle against him. One day, therefore, as he laid into him vehemently, the elder began to complain and said to the demon, “When are you going to leave me alone” For the future withdraw from me; you are growing old together with me.” The demon showed himself visibly and said, “Swear to me that you will tell no one what I am going to say to you, and I shall fight against you no more.” And the elder swore to him, “By the One who dwells in the highest, I shall not tell anyone what you say to me.” Then the demon said to him, “Do not venerate this icon, and I will no longer wage battle against you.” The icon had a depiction of our Lady, Holy Mary, the Mother of God, holding our Lord Jesus Christ. The recluse said to the demon, “Go away, I shall think about it.” On the next day, therefore, it was revealed to Abba Theodore the Aeliote who was then dwelling in the Laura of Pharan, and he went and was told everything. The elder said to the recluse, “Truly, you were mocked when you swore, but you did well to speak out. It would be better for you to leave no brothel in this town unentered than to refuse to venerate our Lord and God Jesus Christ together with his own mother.” He then strengthened and confirmed him with many words, and then left to go to his own place. The demon therefore appeared again to the recluse and said to him, “What is this, you wicked old monk? Did you not swear to me that you would tell no one? How then have you spoken out everything to one who came to you? I tell you, wicked old man, that you will be condemned as a perjurer on the day of judgement.” The recluse answered him and said, “What I swore, I swore, and that I perjured myself, I know. But I swore falsely to my Lord and Maker; I will not listen to you.’[1]

[1] Moschus, John, Spiritual Meadow 45 (PG 87.2900B-D; Trans. Wortley, 35-6).

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