February 29, 2012
HIS EMINENCE METROPOLITAN ALEXIOS` MESSAGE ON THE SUNDAY OF ORTHODOXY
"This is the faith of the Apostles, this is the faith of the Orthodox,
this is the faith which has made firm the whole world."
The First Sunday in Lent, the Sunday of Orthodoxy is a special occasion for all Orthodox Christians and plays an important role in our lives. Because Orthodoxy is a style of life, something that is at once pragmatic and spiritual. Through our Faith, we receive a different understanding of life: the understanding that we are not merely human. Through divine involvement, through a miracle, we were made in the very image and likeness of God.
For the Church, icons are not ornamental – they serve as a catechesis – instruction for the Faithful, who learn about the life of Christ and His Saints through the icons. Most importantly they are a declaration of the Incarnation – God become man for the salvation of the world. In the holy icons we are able to depict the truth of His Incarnation. To deny the iconographic depictions of Christ is to deny the truth of His humanity. The lesson of icons is the truth of a God Who became one of us. He is close to us and will lead us to His glorious Resurrection and eternal life.
Veneration of the holy icons is at the heart of our faith, because it is really veneration of the glory of God manifested in a human being. This is what we are attempting to accomplish, by God’s grace, during Lent – that is, to manifest the glory of God in ourselves by prayer, fasting, almsgiving and other acts of piety and charity.
The Sunday of Orthodoxy is not just a commemoration of distant historic events, but a celebration of a living Faith. On this Sunday, we celebrate together the triumph of the true Faith with the restoration of the Holy Icons to the churches in 843 A.D. Thus this is a celebration of struggle and also of ultimate triumph. The Church fought for almost a century and triumphed by holding fast to the Faith of the Apostles. In the same way, through faith, we can find strength and endurance for our own struggle.
As we celebrate Sunday of Orthodoxy, and continue our journey together through this blessed and holy Lenten season towards Pascha, I pray that we will find ourselves renewed and strengthened as true Orthodox Christians, participating in that miracle of Divine Involvement and Love.