This Natural, Right, and Pious Veneration of the Holy Icons

St. John of Krondstadt

St. John of Krondstadt

“Do we not ourselves prove in our daily life the requirement of our nature, its longing to have representations of the persons whom we love, when we express the desire to have their portraits and have our own portraits done, hang them up on the walls, or place them in albums, in order to look at them often, and to enjoy contemplating the respected and beloved faces? And this natural, right, and pious veneration of the holy icons many Lutherans and Anglicans regard as something unnatural, repugnant to God, as idolatry and heresy; they have not icons either in their houses or even in their temples, and consider it a sin to have and worship them. Through this they lose much in faith and piety, for by breaking the visible connection with the saints they likewise destroy the invisible one, whilst in reality, as the Church is heavenly and earthly, it forms one body. They have broken in the same way their connection with the departed, because they do not pray for them and do not offer sacrifices for their souls, sacrifices which are well-pleasing to the merciful God; and thus prove their unbelief in the power of the prayers of the Church for the departed. What kind of a Church is this that has unwisely and audaciously broken her ties with the heavenly, triumphant Church? has interrupted communion by means of prayers with the departed, and broken off communion with the Church that professes the faith in Christ in its primitive purity? Is it a living and holy body of the Church? Can a single trunk of the body, without head, without hands and feet, without eyes and ears, be called a living, organised body? And yet such a community proclaims its faith as the purified, true faith, and eschews the rites of our holy, spotless religion. Is that religion purified that has rejected the Sacrament of Orders and the other sacraments, excepting Baptism and Holy Communion, which last, however, is not valid; has rejected the veneration of the saints, of their relics, icons, fasting, monasticism, and prayers for the departed? Is this the faith of the Gospel? Is it the Church of Christ and the Apostolic Church? No; it is a self-made Church, constituted by the will of men, under the influence of human passions and pleasing human passions; it is ” the truth in unrighteousness “; it is the perverted Gospel of Christ; it is the perversion or turning away of Christ’s people ” unto another Gospel,” of which the Apostle said: “But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” It is not a Church, but a soul-destroying dissection of the body of Christ.”

Sergieff, Archpriest John Iliytch; St John of Kronstadt (2010-05-26). My Life in Christ, or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and of Peace in God (Kindle Locations 6863-6881). Kindle Edition.

“On what grounds of principle do the denominations around us vindicate their right to exist? To some of the sects this question would come like a thunderbolt. They have never raised it. They never knew that such a question could be raised. In the Sectarian Declaration of Independence, among the certain inalienable rights are sectarian life, sectarian liberty, and sectarian pursuit of happiness. They may deny a man’s right to wear a coat or a hat not fashioned after the sacred pattern shown them in the mount of their private hallucination, but as to a man’s right to join himself to any sect he thinks good, or to make another sect if the existing sects do not suit him, of that they never doubted. In the Popery of Sect, “Stat pro ratione voluntas” — their best reason is, they wish it so.

Yet this question is a great question. It is the question. The denomination which has not raised it is a self-convicted sect. The denomination which cannot return such an answer to it as at least shows sincere conviction that it has such reasons, should be shunned by all Christians who would not have the guilt of other men’s sins.”

Krauth, Charles Porterfield. “The Relations of the Lutheran Church to the Denominations around us.” In First Free Lutheran Diet in America, Philadelphia, December 27-28, 1877: The Essays, Debates and Proceedings, by Henry Eyster Jacobs, 27-69. Philadelphia: J. Frederick Smith, Publisher, 1877.


Salvation and the Veneration [honoring] of Saints

The Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles

The Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles

Book cover for "The Orthodox Church" by John Anthony McGuckin

“It is a great mistake to think that the soul finds Christ nakedly and alone. The Lord always comes to us in the family, and through the medium of the love of other members of the communion. He came to his world through the Holy Virgin. He comes to us in faith, even to this day, through the ministry of those who have loved us and nurtured us, and formed our minds and characters in a thousand ways. He comes to us in the Scriptures, directly, yes, but also through the countless hundreds of thousands who have transcribed, collected the texts, and preached them to society over centuries. There is no direct and solipsistically solitary path to the Christ. If we find Christ we find the heart of love and communion. Those who wish to find the Lord alone, and possess him alone, have not found the true Lord. In some places in the world superstition may indeed have perverted the cult of the saints, so that it has degenerated into a disturbingly non-Christian phenomenon. Orthodoxy does not generally manifest that social condition. If it does appear, the clergy correct it energetically. The Orthodox veneration of the saints is widely understood by all levels of the faithful, educated or not. And the celebration of the saints is deeply integrated with the sense of the church as a communion of word and sacrament. This has been a pattern of Eastern Christian life since the earliest centuries, when the tombs of the martyrs grew into being the local parish churches.
“Orthodoxy, in its heard, does not understand a personalist attitude that issues in the form of a latent (or not so latent!) hostility to the saints, and finds it to be defective in its comprehension of the communion of salvation. It is difficult to express the significance of family to those whose experience of earthly families has been insignificant, or worse, damaging. But the action of the saints, still philanthropic and still assisting the lives of Christians on earth, is a fact of authentic Christian family life, and for the Orthodox is part of their very faith-confession that Christ has saved hot a host of solitary righteous people, but rather an elect communion of beings: humanity and angels, who are brought together in him and through him in a bond of love that constitutes the New Being of the Kingdom.” (McGuckin 2011)
McGuckin, John Anthony. The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.



a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing