by Abbot Tryphon
The Old Testament God was revealed to us by Christ Jesus. Prior to the incarnation of the Logos, God’s people were forbidden to make any image of Him, for no one had seen His face. Yet when Christ said to His disciples,
“he who has seen Me has seen the Father”,
the fullness of this loving God was revealed to His creation.
Early Christians used icons to depict this truth of the incarnation. The very first icons showing the Holy Virgin and the Christ Child, were painted by non other than the holy Apostle Luke. Since Christ is revealed in His saints, even the Holy Virgin and the Martyrs were soon depicted in images, worthy of veneration by the early Christians. The icons are not worshiped, nor are the saints worshiped, for adoration is reserved only for God. They are venerated because Christ dwells in His saints.
Christians, from the very first century, have venerated the holy icons as windows into eternity, representing as they do, the deified state of those who’ve won the good fight and are in Paradise with God. Our icons are not seen as religious art, but indeed windows into the other world. Perhaps a better description would be to say the icons are doors into the Heavenly Realm, for God infuses into the icons His Divine Energies, whereby we are lifted up into a place where there is neither time nor space. When we venerate the icons, our devotion and love is passed on to the archetypes, where we are connected to the saints who are in the Church Triumphant, together with the heavenly hosts, and Christ is glorified in His Saints.