The Triumph of Orthodoxy

And the declaration of anathemas against the iconoclasts

The Old Testament God was revealed to us by Christ Jesus. Prior to the incarnation of the Logos, God’s people were forbidden to make any image of Him, for no one had seen His face. Yet when Christ said to His disciples, “he who has seen Me has seen the Father”, the fullness of this loving God was revealed to His creation.

Early Christians used icons to depict this truth of the incarnation. The very first icons showing the Holy Virgin and the Christ Child, were painted by non other than the holy Apostle Luke. Since Christ is revealed in His saints, even the Holy Virgin and the Martyrs were soon depicted in images, worthy of veneration by the early Christians. The icons are not worshiped, nor are the saints worshiped, for adoration is reserved only for God. They are venerated because Christ dwells in His saints.

Orthodox, from the very first century, have venerated the holy icons as windows into eternity, representing as they do, the deified state of those who’ve won the good fight and are in Paradise with God. Our icons are not seen as religious art, but indeed windows into the other world. Perhaps a better description would be to say the icons are doors into the Heavenly Realm, for God infuses into the icons His Divine Energies, whereby we are lifted up into a place where there is neither time nor space. When we venerate the icons, our devotion and love is passed on to the archetypes, where we are connected to the saints who are in the Church Triumphant, together with the heavenly hosts, and Christ is glorified in His Saints.

The iconoclasts (literally meaning “image-smashers”), by denying the veneration of icons, deny the Incarnation of Christ. The image as depicted in the holy icons of Christ is a confession of faith in the historical Incarnation. An historical Christ is necessarily visible and depictable. The Seventh Ecumenical Council stated plainly and concisely: “If one does not venerate our Lord Jesus Christ depicted in an icon, according to the human form, let him be anathema”. Although the complete set of anathemas declared encompass more than the iconoclasts, for brevity, I am choosing to concentrate on the iconoclastic heresy.

In order to remember this day the holy Church decreed that on the First Sunday of Lent we celebrate the “Triumph of Orthodoxy” over its enemies, whether open and direct, as is the case with the iconoclasts, or subtle and devious, as are some of the Church’s contemporary enemies.

It is important for us to remember that the anathemas are not to be interpreted as condemnations, for in condemnations there is a strong element of hatred, and an innate desire for revenge and destruction.  Thus, the Church does not condemn, but simply separates from its midst those who do not see themselves as belonging to the Church, for they refuse to accept her teachings.

In her wisdom and love, the Church wishes that those who have put themselves outside the Body of Christ, recognize their error, and return to Orthodox teachings. It is not about the Church separating from them, but that they have separated themselves  have set themselves apart from the Church, and in the pronouncement of the Anathemas on The Sunday of Orthodoxy, the Church solemnly announces that fact.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Sunday March 8, 2020 / February 24, 2020
First Sunday of the Great Lent: The Triumph of Orthodoxy. Tone five.
Great Lent. Food with Oil
“Cyprus” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos from the village Staromniy, Moscow region (movable holiday on the 1st Sunday of the Great Lent).
First (4th c.) and Second (452) Findings of the Precious Head of St. John the Baptist.
Venerable Erasmus of the Kiev Caves (1160).
Uncovering of the relics (1486) of St. Romanus, prince of Uglich.
Martyrs Montanus, Lucias, Julian, Victoricus, Flavian and their companions at Carthage (259).
St. Cummain Ailbe, abbot of Ilona (669) (Celtic & British).

The Scripture Readings

Luke 24:12-35 (5th Matins Gospel)
Hebrews 11:24-26, 11:32-12:2
John 1:43-51
2 Corinthians 4:6-15 Forerunner
Matthew 11:2-15 Forerunner
Vespers Forerunner
1) Isaiah 40:1-3,9; 41:17-18; 45:8; 48:20-21; 54:1
2) Malachi 3:1-2,5-7,12,17; 4:4-6
3) Wisdom of Solomon 4:7,16,17,19,20; 5:1-7

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.


  1. The complete set of anathemas declared encompass more than the iconoclasts. Here are some from the procession on Orthodox Sunday:

    After the Gospel reading the Bishop (if no bishop then the priest) will read the following Anathemas.

    Bishop: To those who scorn the venerable and holy ecumenical Councils, and who despise even more their dogmatic and canonical traditions; and to those who say that all things were not perfectly defined and delivered by the councils, but that they left the greater part mysterious, unclear, and untaught, ANATHEMA.

    Faithful: Anathema.

    To those who hold in contempt the sacred and divine canons of our blessed fathers, which, by sustaining the holy Church of God and adorning the whole Christian Church, guide to divine reverence, ANATHEMA.

    To all things innovated and enacted contrary to the Church tradition, teaching, and institution of the holy and ever-memorable fathers, or to anything hence-forth so enacted, ANATHEMA.

    To those who accept the visions of the prophets, albeit unwillingly, and who do not – O wonder! – accept the images seen by the prophets even before the incarnation of the Word, but who babble that the intangible and invisible essence was seen by the prophets, and who, even when they concede that images and types and forms were truly revealed to the prophets, still cannot endure to depict in icons the Word become man and His sufferings for our sake, ANATHEMA.

    To those who hear the Lord’s words: “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me” and so forth, and who understand Moses when he says, “The Lord our God will raise up to you a prophet of your brethren, like me,” and who then say that they accept the Prophet, yet they do not permit the grace and universal salvation of the Prophet to be depicted in icons, how He was seen, how He lived with mankind, how He worked healings of incurable passions and diseases, how He was crucified, was buried, and arose, in short, all that He both suffered and wrought for us; to those, therefore, who cannot endure to gaze upon these universal and saving deeds in icons, neither honor nor worship them, ANATHEMA.

    To those who persist in the heresy of denying icons, or rather the apostasy of denying Christ, and who are not counseled by the Mosaic law to be led to their salvation, nor convinced to return to piety by the apostolic teachings, nor induced by patristic exhortations and explanations to abandon their deception, nor persuaded by the agreement of the Churches of God throughout the whole world, but who have once and for all joined themselves to the portion of the Jews and Greeks: for the blasphemies cast by the Jews and Greeks at the prototype, have been shamelessly used by the former to insult through His icon Him that is depicted therein; therefore, to those who are incorrigibly possessed by this deception and have their ears covered towards every divine word and spiritual teaching, since they are already putrefied members, having cut themselves off from the common body of the Church, ANATHEMA.

    To those who do not confess that the Word and Son of God was begotten without change from the Father before the ages, and that in these latter times, out of His abundant loving kindness, He was incarnate of the immaculate Theotokos Mary and became man for our salvation, taking upon Himself all that pertains to us save sin; and to those who do not partake of His Holy and immortal Mysteries with fear, since they consider them to be mere bread and common wine rather than the very flesh of the Master and His holy and precious blood shed for the life of the world; to such men be, ANATHEMA.

    To those who do not worship the Cross of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ as the salvation and glory of the whole world, as that which annulled and utterly destroyed the machinations and weapons of the enemy and redeemed creation from the idols and manifested victory to the world, but who consider the Cross to be a tyrannical weapon; to such men be, ANATHEMA.

    To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so‑called “branches” which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all “branches” or sects or denominations, and even religions will be united into one body; and who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the baptism and Eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore, to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned heretics or who advocate, disseminate, or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians, ANATHEMA.

    Bishop: To them who confess with word, mouth, heart, and mind, and with both writing and icons depict the incarnate advent of God the Word, ETERNAL MEMORY.

    Chanter: Eternal memory (3). All the faithful should join in.

    Bishop: To them who acknowledge in Christ one Hypostasis, with different essences, and attribute to the one hypostasis both the created and uncreated, the visible and invisible, the passible and impassible, the circumscrible and uncircumscrible; and then who apply on the one hand, to the Divine essence uncreatedness and the like, and, on the other hand, acknowledge with word and icons that the human nature has the other attributes accompanying circumscription, ETERNAL MEMORY.

    Chanter: Eternal memory (3). Again with all the faithful.

    Bishop: To them who believe and preach, that is proclaims, doctrines by means of writings and deeds by means of forms, and link them in a single proclamation, whereby the truth is affirmed in word and icon, ETERNAL MEMORY.

    Chanter: Eternal memory (3). Again with all the faithful.

    Chanter: Wherefore, we cry to Thee thankfully: Thou didst fill all things with joy, O our Savior.

    Bishop: As the prophets have seen, as the apostles have taught, as the Church has received, as the teachers have set forth in dogmas, as the whole world has understood, as Grace has shone forth, as the truth was demonstrated, as falsehood was banished, as wisdom was emboldened, as Christ has awarded; thus do we believe, thus we speak, thus we preach Christ our true God and His saints, honoring them in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in temples, and in icons, worship ping and respecting the One as God and Master, and honoring the others, and apportioning relative worship to them, because of our common Master for they are His genuine servants. this is the Faith of the apostles, this is the Faith of the fathers, this is the Faith of the Orthodox, this Faith hath established the whole world.

    Bishop: What God is as great as our God? Thou art our God, who alone worketh wonders

  2. Thank you, Abbot Tryphon, for this beautifully written piece on the sanctity and reality of the Holy Images.
    I appreciated also, reading ACK ‘s response of an expansion concerning some of the associated anathemas.
    Praying for your recovery and return to full health,

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