Sunday of Orthodoxy
For more than one hundred years the Church of Christ was troubled by the persecution of the Iconoclasts of evil belief, beginning in the reign of Leo the Isaurian (717-741) and ending in the reign of Theophilus (829-842). After Theophilus’s death, his widow the Empress Theodora (celebrated Feb. 11), together with the Patriarch Methodius (June 14), established Orthodoxy anew. This ever-memorable Queen venerated the icon of the Mother of God in the presence of the Patriarch Methodius and the other confessors and righteous men, and openly cried out these holy words: “If anyone does not offer relative reverence to the holy icons, not adoring them as though they were gods, but venerating them out of love as images of the archetype, let him be anathema.” Then with common prayer and fasting during the whole first week of the Forty-day Fast, she asked God’s forgiveness for her husband. After this, on the first Sunday of the Fast, she and her son, Michael the Emperor, made a procession with all the clergy and people and restored the holy icons, and again adorned the Church of Christ with them. This is the holy deed that all we the Orthodox commemorate today, and we call this radiant and venerable day the Sunday of Orthodoxy, that is, the triumph of true doctrine over heresy.
First Sunday of Lent – Sunday of Orthodoxy
There are three major Christian denominations in the world today: Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Protestanism. Each has its own customs and traditions. The Protestant Churches have eliminated most of their customs, traditions and symbols during the last 400 years. The Roman Catholics adorn their Churches with religious statues. Orthodox Christians grace their Churches with Holy Icons. Iconography (the painting of Holy pictures) does not have as its aim to reproduce a saint or an incident from the Gospel or the lives of the saints, but rather to express them symbolically, to impart to them a spiritual character. In Byzantine Iconography the saint is not represented as he is in actual life, that is naturalistically, but as he is now in the heavenly kingdom, as he is in eternity. This is called Liturgical art.
A noted writer once said about our art as he visited our most famous Church (St.Sophia which is now in the hands of the Turks in Constantinople), “Below the dome of St. Sophia I felt that the Byzantine idea has a world wide mission. Never in all the evolution of human art have painters succeeded in spreading the heaven before us so superbly, so truly, so profoundly at no other time did the feeling of rhythm and artistic knowledge find such a mature expression; at no time was art so living and real.” Western painters paint with their eyes’ the Byzantine painters paint with their heart and soul.
These Holy pictures called Icons have always graced our Churches since the Apostolic age. During the seventh century, a Byzantine Emperor attempted to remove all Icons from our Churches believing that Icons should not be worshiped but only God. He actually succeeded in doing away with the Icons, and for over 150 years Orthodox Christians were banned from using Icons in any shape or form in the Churches and on March 11, 843 AD a great celebration was held in the Church of St. Sophia. There was a great meeting held during that period which defined the position of the Icon in Orthodox worship. The Icons produce within us a sense of repentance of our sins which sanctifies our soul. They are spiritual mirrors through which we see the Heavenly Saints. They are the symbol of our faith in Jesus Christ in accordance with our Orthodox tradition. This is why this Sunday of the restoration of the Icons in our Churches is called “Sunday of Orthodoxy” It is truly a victory for Orthodoxy which has withstood for almost 2000 years. The Sunday of Orthodoxy is celebrated all over the world and is one of the most important feast days of our Faith.
(Lives of the Saints and Major Feast Days by Rev. Fr. George Poulos)
Parish Council on Duty:
John Argiropoulos, John Ioannou, Jr., Tony Maiorana, Anna Merkel, Demetri Rapanos, Mark Zaden, Kathy Ziegler