SUNDAY, MARCH 4: Orthodox Christians greet the first Sunday of Great Lent today. Each Sunday of the season carries a theme and today celebrates the Triumph of Orthodoxy. Historically, it was on the first Sunday of Great Lent in 787 CE that the iconodules experienced victory over the iconoclasts; in other words, the hundreds of bishops at the Seventh Ecumenical Council decided that icons had a place in Orthodox worship. Following a conflict that had lasted several decades, the Council declared icons to be venerated but not worshipped. (OrthodoxWiki has details.) In services today, devotees sing about Orthodox teachings in this regard and people process around the church, often holding icons of the congregation.
The spiritual theme of the first Sunday of Great Lent involves another victory: that of True Faith. Believers hold that True Faith is achieved because humans were created “in the image and likeness of God,” and can therefore become purified of sin. (Learn more from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.)
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.