Are There Wonder-Working Icons?

Are There Wonder-Working Icons?

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Elder Epifanios Theodoropoulos †

 

We Orthodox don’t worship icons, or the saints, the angels or even Our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God. We worship only God in the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We honour and glorify the saints, the angels and, even more the Ever-Virgin and All-Holy Mother of our Saviour, who is ‘more honourable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim’, but we don’t worship either these persons or their icons. Honour and respect are one thing; worship’s another.

Many Orthodox people consider certain icons to be ‘wonder-working’, but is this the case? Are there really wonder-working icons? Or rather, is it possible that there should be icons that perform miracles?

Many Orthodox theologians attribute the miracles of certain icons not to the images themselves but to the faith of the people who prayed before them. The fact that faith works wonders, that fervent prayer performs miracles, whether it’s said before an icon or not, is beyond question.

This in itself, however, isn’t a reason to deny that certain icons may have the grace of working wonders. This may seem absurd, but in reality it isn’t. It’s perfectly natural (for the faithful, obviously; for unbelievers everything’s not only absurd, but even non-existent).

The Lord gave His disciples the power to perform miracles. But we see that this power wasn’t restricted to the disciples themselves, but also extended to their shadow! The Gospel explicitly tells us that many signs and wonders occurred among the people not only through the hands of the apostles, but that the Jews brought their sick on pallets to the public squares, waiting for Peter to pass, so that his shadow falling upon them would heal them (Acts 5, 12-14) And besides, even the cloths used by Saint Paul, if placed upon the sick, would heal them (Acts 19, 12).

It wasn’t only the apostles who had wonder-working gifts, then, but also the objects of their personal use. This, of course, indicates God’s favour not towards the objects themselves, but to the apostles. It was because of them that their miraculous powers extended to their cloths.

Why, then, is it out of the question that there should be icons which have the power to work wonders? It was not uncommon that those who made the icons, especially the older ones, were people of sanctity, of deepest humility, committed to prayer and fasting, fired by passionate love of God.

Why would it be strange for God to bless them and the works of their hands? What would be unnatural if among those blessings there was also the power to perform miracles?

Source: pemptousia.com

 

 

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OCN has partnered with Pemptousia. A Contemporary post-modern man does not understand what man is.  Through its presence in the internet world, Pemptousia, with its spirit of respect for beauty that characterizes it, wishes to contribute to the presentation of a better meaning of life for man, to the search for the ontological dimension of man, and to the awareness of the unfathomable mystery of man who is always in Christ in the process of becoming, of man who is in the image of divine beauty. And the beauty of man springs from the beauty of the Triune God. In the end, “beauty will save the world”.

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Pemptousia Partnership

Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.