St-Nicholas St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

2513 W 4th. Street
Chester, PA 1901

Theotokos of Vladimir
English Version
    Храни Вас Господь! Святителю отче Николае Моли Бога о Нас. Russian Version

Храни Вас Господь!

Resurrection of Christ

Если ты хочешь помочь Церкви, то старайся лучше исправить себя самого, а не других. Если ты исправишь себя самого, то сразу же исправится частичка Церкви.

Паисий Святогорец


Moscow Patriarchate

The Patriarchal Parish of the Russian Orthodox

Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

Chester, PA 19013

2513 W 4th St

Saturday, 7 March
4pm – Vigil will be held at Saint Michaels the archangel Russian Orthodox church
First Sunday of Great Lent,  8 March
Sunday of Orthodoxy
10am - Divine Liturgy

    On the first Sunday of Great Lent, we observe the "Sunday of Orthodoxy." This day is dedicated to the triumph of the veneration of icons over the heresy of iconoclasm. The very concept "Orthodoxy" is tied with the age-old struggle of the Church against those who opposed the veneration of icons. Why does the Church venerate icons? Why is Orthodoxy so closely linked and identified with the veneration of icons?

    We are reproducing below some excerpts from an essay by L. A. Ouspensky entitled "On the Way to Unity?", which was published in Paris in 1987 by the YMCA Press. In this essay, which is a kind of last testament of Ouspensky who died in Paris in 1987, the icon painter and theologian demonstrates with extreme clarity how closely the icon and its veneration are tied to Orthodox ecclessiology (teachings about the Church). The major work of L. A. Ouspensky, The Theology of the Icon, came out in French in 1960, and in English in 1978.

* * *

    The situation in our times has evolved in such a way that the question of the image in Orthodoxy as well as in Roman Catholicism is acquiring a decisive significance both in terms of the teaching of the faith and in terms of spiritual life.

    Over the past few centuries the view has grown within Christianity that the significance and character of the icon is not decisive for the teaching of the faith. But the history of the Church and her teachings demonstrate the opposite: it is not for nothing that the bloody struggle against iconoclasm lasted for over 100 years. The Orthodox liturgical calendar is full of the names of martyrs and confessors for icons. And they didn't go to martyrdom, tortures and deaths for a work of art (the icon was never viewed that way), nor for a painted board, but for the confession of the faith through the icon, just as in the first century and later people went to martyrdom for confessing the name of Christ (a strange situation for the mind of contemporary man).

    The Church recognizes the dogma of the veneration of icons, not the veneration of works of art. Within Christianity the dogma of venerating icons is rejected by some (Protestants), among others it dissolves in the cloudy concept of "a disciplinary measure" but in fact is replaced by the veneration of works of art, that is, practically speaking, it is rejected (in Roman Catholicism), and among a third group it is forgotten (by the Orthodox).

    Forgetting the dogma of the veneration of icons is a phenomenon that is characteristic of our troubled time. And estrangement from this dogma is not only a matter of forgetting, it is an estrangement from the living Tradition of the Church, a disregard for the Holy Fathers and for the decisions of one's own local and of ecumenical councils.

    The dogma of the veneration of icons is a victory over the christological and, at the same time, trinitarian heresies. (That is why the Church united liturgically the commemoration of the First Ecumenical Council, against the arian heresy, with the commemoration of the Seventh Council, against iconoclasm.) This dogma was the culmination of an entire era of struggle for the Orthodox faith in the Incarnation and, it follows, for the true confession of the image of the building of the House of God in the world. It is an open truth, revealed by the collective consciousness of the Church. In it the Church reveals the genuine essence of the Christian icon as the visible and immutable witness of the Incarnation (and not only as one in a series of Old Testament and New Testament theophanies). This dogma is the result of the acceptance by Christianity of the fullness of Christ's nature as both God and human. And one can say that if during the period of iconoclasm the Church struggle for the icon, then in our time it is the icon that is doing battle for the Church. It is called upon to play a role that it has not played heretofore within Christianity. And if the word has lost its value and has ceased to express the meaning that it carries within it then its place is taken by the icon: it is called upon to bare witness of the Church, to be the visible demonstration of her indestructible unity.

    The rebellion of the contemporary world against the Church, inspired by "the spirit of malice", the enemy of our salvation, is leading to the snuffing out the consciousness of the Church in the entire universe, creating countless schisms and divisions, which Christians join very easily these day.

    Without exaggerating, we are living in a terrifying and dangerous era. It is terrifying above all because of the rising rebellion against God and His Kingdom. Again, it is not God, but man that has become the measure of all things. It is not faith, but ideology, utopia that defines the spiritual condition of the world. At a certain point Western Christianity seems to have excepted this perspective: all at once the "theology of liberation' arose, and questions of economics, politics, and psychology replace the Christian view of the world, service to God. All over the world nuns, theologians, hierarchs are demanding--from God?--some kind of right, defending abortions and misinterpretations, and all of this is in the name of peace, agreements, the unity of everyone." Everyone is striving toward unity, but with differing conceptions of what unity is.

    The Church has always considered itself united because it is the image and likeness of God. It "knows unity and therefore does not know union." And this unity, insofar as it is a unity of God and man, cannot be destroyed. It is possible to fall away from it, to fall out of it, which has happened and which continues to happen. But that has never destroyed the unity of God and man that is embodied in the Church. In the Christian world there has never been unity throughout its entire history from the Apostolic times to our own time.

L. A. Ouspensky, "On the Way to Unity?",1987 Paris.




Address of Church:
St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
2513 W 4th St
Chester, PA 19013


© 2009 St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church.