The Puzzle Continues (Part 3): Sunday of Orthodoxy (1st Sunday of Great Lent)

We now have two pieces to this rather mystical puzzle of the Triodion and Great Lent. We see no total image, only an outline of an image. This outline was constructed with the imagery of Desire and the imagery Faith. The puzzle will not form without these two pieces.

The third piece, has four equal sides, Humility, Repentance, Christian Actions, and Forgiveness; basicly a square with all the sides being equal in importance.

We still can’t see a total image. However, the construction of the actual image has commenced. The next five pieces, presented weekly, will bring us to the actual image of the season. The completion of this puzzle is solely based on the work we put into its construction. What kind of image will we find?

1st Sunday of Lent: Sunday of Orthodoxy

The 1st Sunday of Lent, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, is the glorious triumph of the Orthodox Faith. It is this Sunday that commemorates the victorious restoration of the Holy Icons into the Church. The “imagery” of this Sunday, is the first piece of the total image of the puzzle.

The word “icon”, from the Greek “eikon” is defined as “image”. St. Paul speaks of Christ as the Icon of God. The Lord is our image, our Icon of God, and God became man in Christ for our salvation, and for the salvation for all mankind. Man is also an icon of God. Man was made in God’s own image.

The Icon is our sign of hope. When we gaze upon an Icon, we see not only the image, but are carried beyond to the Person of Christ, Saint or the Event represented. For Orthodox Christians, the Icon is a visible image of God’s presence. It leads us to a deeper communion with our God. Venerating the Icon, we are led beyond ourselves, beyond this earthly world, to the world of the Kingdom of God.

God is with us through our Holy Orthodox Church and Faith. The Icon is an expression of our faith. The Icon comes from deep within the life and belief of our Church. it is the expression of the Orthodox faith as seen in the Scriptures and in the worship of the Church. Therefore, the Icon becomes our teacher. Our Orthodox faith is molded by the reading of Scriptures, through prayer and worship, through religious education, and through the teaching of the Icon. The Icon, as a teacher, communicates visually the mystery of God’s coming to us and all that He has done for us.

The Church is the meeting place between the Divine and human; God and man. The Church is where we experience God’s presence. Within the Church, the Icon is a visible sign of the relationship between God and man.

God’s presence is not only in the Church. His presence should also be at the center of the Orthodox Christian lifestyle and that center is the kat’oikon ecclesia; the Church in the home.

In our homes we honor those we love. We place their pictures in a prominent place for all to see. We remember them and how much they are part of our lives. Their pictures are constant reminders to us and to all who come into our homes. As our homes are the center of our lives, they are a reflection of all we live and believe. As Orthodox Christians it is customary to place an Icon in a prominent place in the home. This becomes the place of family prayer. When we gather in this area of our home, we gather before God’s presence, our family grows in faith and understanding of God’s love in our lives.

Should we limit our Kat’oikon Ecclesia to one room? We may have an Icon Corner in each person’s room. Together with the Icon, we include the Bible and a vigil light or a candle. The Icon Corner becomes an expression of our personal faith, and a center for our prayers and devotion; a private place for us to spend quiet moments meditating and praying to Christ our God. The Icon invites us to pray.

Standing or kneeling silently before the Icon, we grow in appreciation of its holiness. The silence begins to speak to us. As the Icon is a spiritual form of art, it carries us beyond the earthly, into the presence of the person depicted. It raises our consciousness to a new level, to the level of the Kingdom of God. In this manner we are able to speak about the Icon bringing us into the presence of God.

On this Sunday of Orthodoxy, we examine our Orthodox Christian Lifestyle. Let us build our Kat’oikon Ecclesia, with our Icons, Bible, and votive; someplace where we may meet with the Lord. At this spiritual place, we may humbly meditate on our sins, repent, ask for forgiveness, reflect on who we are in His eyes and become living icons of the Lord.

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