What reverence we must have for the holy icons!
A monk once prepared an Icon of Saint Nicholas to give to someone as a blessing.He wrapped it in a clear piece of paper and placed it in a cabinet until the time came to give it.But without realizing it,he placed it upside down.After a while,a rattling sound could be heard in the room.The monk looked around to see where the sound was coming from.He did not realize at first that it was coming from the cabinet.The rattle continued for some time,"tap,tap,tap"and would not leave him in peace.Finally,when he approached the cabinet and realized the sound was coming from there ,he opened it and heard the sound coming from the icon."Let me see what is the matter with this Icon,"he said to himself and unwrapped it.He saw what had happened,stood the Icon upright and immediately the sound stopped.
The devout person will especially venerate the holy Icon.And when we say,"He will venerate the holy Icons"we mean he venerates the person depicted on the Icon.When someone has a picture of his father,his mother,his grandfather,or grandmother,his brother,he cannot possibly tear it or step on it.How much more must we venerate the Icons of the Saints.
Jehovah's Witnesses have no Icons.The honour we show to the Icons they consider to be idolatry.I asked one of them once,"Don't you have photographs in your homes?"Yes,we do,"he said."Well then,does a mother kiss the photograph of her child,when that child is far away?" "Yes,she does,"he said"Does she kiss the paper of the photograph or her child?"I asked and he replied,"She kisses her child.""well then,just as she kisses her child when she kisses his photograph,we kiss Christ when we kiss His Icon,we don't kiss the paper or the wood."
-Elder,even if a plank of wood had been once painted with an Icon of Christ,οf Panagia(Mother οf God),or of a Saint and the colours have faded away over time,are we not still to show reverence for it?
-Yes,of course.When someone venerates the holy Icons with devoutness and fervent love,he absorbs the colours from them and the Saints are imprinted on his soul.The Saints are pleased when they are lifted up from the paper or the wood and imprinted in people's hearts.When a Christian devoutly kisses the holy Icons and prays for help from Christ,Panagia,the Saints,he draws into his heart not only the Grace of Christ,of Panagia ,and of the Saints,but also the whole of Christ,or of Panagia,or of a Saint,and places them upon the iconostasis of his own temple.Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit(1Cor 6;19.3;16)You see,every divine service begins and ends with the veneration of the Holy Icons.If people could understand this they would feel such joy,they would receive so much power!
-Elder,in the Supplication Service of the Theotokos,why does a verse in the hymns of praise say,Speechless be the lips of the impious who do not venerate your sacred Icon?
When someone is not devout and yet kisses the Icons,are his lips not speechless?And,when the devout kisses the Icons,aren't his lips full of praise?There are some people who do not even touch the Icon when they venerate it.Others touch only their lips to the Icon when they kiss it. Here,like this(Without a sound) Did you hear anything?
Well then,"speechless are the lips.
Whereas the devout person kisses the Icon and you can hear the sound of the kiss.In that case,the lips are "eloquent" with praise.It is not a matter of cursing when the verse says"speechless",but rather that those lips are without a sound,while the others are eloquent with sounds.When we look upon the holy Icons,our hearts should be overflowing with love for God and for the Saints,and we should prostrate ourselves to venerate the Icons and kiss them devoutly.
The Foundation is devoutness.
You see,someone may lean against the wall where an Icon has stood and he receives Grace,while another may own the best Icon,but because he is not devout,receives no benefit.Or one may benefit from a simple wooden cross,while another,who is not devout,may not even benefit from the True Precious Cross itself .Cultivate your devoutness and your modesty as much as you can.This will help you receive the Grace of God.For,if someone is devout and spiritually modest and humble too,he can expect to receive divine Grace.If he has no devoutness and no humility,the Grace of God does not come to him.What does the Sacred Scripture say?But to this man will I look,even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,and trembleth at My word. ISA 66;2.
Taken from ELDER PAISIOS OF MOUNT ATHOS,Spiritual Counsels Vol 2 "SPIRITUAL AWAKENING"