What better way to begin the arduous journey of Great Lent than to celebrate our faith and to remember that we are not alone? The Sunday of Orthodoxy allows us to do both. On this day, we celebrate the victory of the true Faith over iconoclasm. We also rejoice in the blessing of being able to be surrounded by visible reminders of the Church Triumphant: those who have gone on before us, enduring the race well until the end; who continue to intercede on our behalf.
This is an exciting and memorable Sunday for our children! Throughout the service, they are able to see all the extra icons others have brought along to church, and anticipate the celebration at the end. Many of the children then join in the parade of icons, even carrying their own icon as we re-enact the Sunday when the icons were restored to the churches. Finally, the children can join in as we all speak (or read) together; getting louder and louder as we go. (We are actually noisy in church!)
It would behoove us as parents to prepare our children for that final portion of the celebration, since it succinctly sums up the Sunday of Orthodoxy in a few sentences. Before we go to church, let us take a few moments to review this affirmation with our children. We can read these sentences together as a family, and explain their meaning to our children. After reading them, let us discuss with our children why it is important to say these words together with other Orthodox Christians around the world. If our children are able to read, let us help them sound out all the words in advance, so that they can better read along on Sunday. If the children cannot read, let us repeat the ending multiple times along with them, so that it becomes familiar enough that they can loudly say as much as possible, together with the rest of us:
As the prophets beheld, as the Apostles have taught,…as the Church has
received… as the teachers have dogmatized,…as the Universe has agreed,… as
Grace has shown forth,…as Truth has revealed,…as falsehood has been
dissolved,…as Wisdom has presented,…as Christ Awarded,…thus we
declare,…thus we assert,…thus we preach Christ our true God, and honor as Saints
in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in churches, in Holy Icons; on the
one hand worshipping and reverencing Christ as God and Lord; and on the other
hand honoring as true servants of the same Lord of all and accordingly offering
(Louder) This is the Faith of the Apostles, this is the Faith of the Fathers, this is
the Faith of the Orthodox, this is the Faith which has established the Universe.
The Sunday of Orthodoxy is different from other Sundays. It should be, for it reminds us of a very important event that influences our everyday life. Because of the triumph of Orthodoxy, our lives are able to be infused with icons: those visible, tangible reminders of the presence of Christ and His Saints in our lives. It is a day rightly celebrated. Let us do all that we can to prepare our children to celebrate it along with us.
For more information:
Read more about the Sunday of Orthodoxy at http://lent.goarch.org/sunday_of_orthodoxy/learn/.
Hear more about the Sunday of Orthodoxy and the importance of icons at Fr. Thomas Hopko’s podcast at http://www.ancientfaith.com/announcements/the3. Listen to Fr. David Smith’s explanation at http://myocn.net/icons-and-the-sunday-of-orthodoxy/.
Be challenged to better see God by listening to Fr. Andrew Damick’s podcast at http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/emmaus/sermon_mar._24_2013_sunday_of_orthodoxy_seeing_god
Find the order of the celebration at http://www.allsaintsorthodox.org/resources/library/Sunday_of_Orthodoxy.pdf.