Orthodoxy Sunday

Second Council of Nicaea

Second Council of Nicaea

Read during Orthros on the first Sunday of Great Lent:

The uncircumscribed Word of the Father became circumscribed, taking flesh from thee, O Theotokos, and He has restored the sullied image to its ancient glory, filling it with the divine beauty. This, our salvation, we confess in deed and word, and we depict it in the holy icons.

Enlightened by this mystery of God’s providence, the divinely-inspired prophets foretold it of old; and this they did for our sakes, who see the fulfillment of the ages. Receiving through this mystery divine knowledge, we know one Lord and God, glorified in three Persons, and Him alone we worship; we have one faith, one baptism, and we are clothed in Christ. This, our salvation, we confess in deed and word, and we depict it in the holy icons.

On March 24 in the Holy Orthodox Church we commemorate our Venerable Father Zachariah the recluse and Artemon, bishop of Seleucia; and New-hieromartyr Parthenios, patriarch of Constantinople.
On this same day, the First Sunday of the Fast, we make remembrance of the restoration of the holy and venerable Icons, which took place through the ever-memorable Sovereigns of Constantinople, Michael and his mother, Theodora, during the patriarchate of Saint Methodios the Confessor.

I rejoice, as I see them fittingly reverence
The icons formerly unfittingly banished.

This restoration was accomplished in the year 842. Theodora’s husband was an iconoclast. After his death, Theodora venerated an icon of the Theotokos in front of Patriarch Methodios. The other faithful in the church did the same, venerating all the icons, considering them to be representations of their original elements, not idols. Theodora prayed to God to forgive her husband during the first week of Great Lent; and on the First Sunday of the Fast, she led the way in hanging up the icons to adorn the churches.
O invariant Icon of the Father, through the intercessions of Thy holy Confessors, have mercy on us. Amen.

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At the Second Council of Nicaea, Seventh Session (October 13, 787), The council issued a declaration of faith concerning the veneration of holy images:

It was determined that “As the sacred and life-giving cross is everywhere set up as a symbol, so also should the images of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the holy angels, as well as those of the saints and other pious and holy men be embodied in the manufacture of sacred vessels, tapestries, vestments, etc., and exhibited on the walls of churches, in the homes, and in all conspicuous places, by the roadside and everywhere, to be revered by all who might see them. For the more they are contemplated, the more they move to fervent memory of their prototypes. Therefore, it is proper to accord to them a fervent and reverent adoration, not, however, the veritable worship which, according to our faith, belongs to the Divine Being alone — for the honor accorded to the image passes over to its prototype, and whoever adores the image adores in it the reality of what is there represented.” . . .The council also decreed that every altar should contain a relic, which remains the case in modern Catholic and Orthodox regulations (Canon VII).

This council is celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine Rite as “The Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy” each year on the first Sunday of Great Lent—the fast that leads up to Pascha (Easter)—and again on the Sunday closest to October 11 (the Sunday on or after October 8). The former celebration commemorates the council as the culmination of the Church’s battles against heresy, while the latter commemorates the council itself.


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