Icons: To See the Mystery of God

“According to the Church’s hymnography, the first icon of the Lord was disclosed when He became incarnate, and the first iconographer was the Theotokos: ‘The uncircumscribed Word of the Father became circumscribed, taking flesh from you, O Theotokos; and He has restored the sullied image [that is, man] to its ancient glory, mingling it with the divine beauty. We therefore confess our salvation [through Christ’s Incarnation], depicting it in action [through the holy icons] and recounting it in words.’

The word of the Gospel and the ‘word’ of the holy icons help us to experience at first hand the mystery of the divine economy: ‘While our physical eyes are looking at an icon, our intellect and the spiritual eyes of our heart are focused on the mystery of the economy of the Incarnation.’

By means of the holy icons, we see the Lord and the saints. We converse with them: ‘The holy Apostles saw the Lord with their physical eyes; others saw the Apostles, and others again saw the holy martyrs. But I too yearn to see them with my soul and body and to have them as a medicine against every ill…Because I am a human being and have a body, I long to see and communicate with holy things in a physical manner too.’” (Hieromonk Gregorios, The Divine Litugy: A Commentary in the Light of the Fathers, pp 40-41)