Saturday 09 March 2019 at the Titus Brandsma Memorial Church 07:00pm: Ordination of Icons & Byzantine Orthodox Mass. Celebrant: Ton Sip. Nijmegen Byzantine Choir, conductor Svetlana van Wielink.
The essence of the icon is most evident to us at the liturgy of the signaling of the icons, that is, the sacred act performed by the priest, making a painted icon suitable for ecclesiastical use. This ordination is absolutely necessary, for it is the ecclesiastical confirmation of the identity between the painted image and the heavenly primal picture. The current liturgy of the icons of ordination clearly shows traces of the conflicts that have raged in the Church in the time of the Iconoclasm. Also in the 7th and 8th century, the opponents of the sacred images mainly appealed to the second of the Ten Commandments (Ex.20,4): “Thou shalt not make unto thee images of God, nor any image of that which is in heaven above on the earth below, or in the water under the earth! “and they had seen in the veneration of images in the Orthodox Church a crime against the express prohibition of God. According to their conception, the worship of the images implied that God would fall short in the honor that belongs to him alone. On both arguments now the prayers and hymns of the icons of ordination take effect. In the opening prayer one addresses God and then clearly shows that with his prohibition he meant only the production of idols. “You have forbidden by a commandment, images and parables displease You, the true God, to make to worship and serve as the Lord “. After this has been established, however, it is pointed out with all the more emphasis that God himself has commanded “to erect images, by which not the name of strange, false and non-existent gods, but Your most holy and exalted name, that of the any true God is glorified “. As such are mentioned the Ark of the Covenant with the two golden Cherubs, as well as the Cherubs of gilded cypress wood, which had to be applied to the temple of Solomon by God’s command. Thus, after the abolition of false image and idol worship, God himself started to portray the mysteries of his realm. The most lofty image of itself – so the ordination prayer continues – God has accomplished in his incarnation, through the incarnation of his Son, who is the “Image of the invisible God” Koll.1,15) and the “irradiation of his Glory “(Heb.1,3). God himself “the sculptor of the whole visible and invisible creation” has portrayed himself in Jesus Christ, his perfect icon. The incarnation of the Son is the image that God has made of himself. Thus God himself is the creator of the first icon, who manifested himself to us in the form of Christ.
Now follows the most striking and for us West-Europeans most unexpected phrase: from Christ himself, the image of the Father, we have, it is said, a detailed, “not man-made” image, on which the facial features of the God-man have been preserved. Here the liturgy alludes to the already mentioned miraculous image, which Christ sent to King Abgar of Edessa, as well as to the tradition of the sweat, with which Christ on his way to Calvary wiped his face and on which the image of his countenance was miraculously left behind. Christ himself has thus made the first Christ icon and thereby legitimized both the painting of icons and the icon worship – this argument is therefore used against the first objection of the opponents of icons.
The second objection of the opponents, that God is shortened by the worship of the sacred image in the honor that belongs to him alone, is refuted by another viewpoint, which is entirely developed from the neo-Platonic reflection on the images: “We idolize the icons do not, but know that the honor, which is proved to the image, rises to the depicted being “. Not the image as such is the object and receiver of worship, but the depicted being that appears in it. In the prayers for intercession, for example, one finds the explicit request that the images should not tempt anyone, to only accept the worship that comes to God as the origin of all holiness.