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Veneration

January 17, 2013

In my parish, we just celebrated our Patronal Feast. Our Patron Saint is St Peter the Apostle and we commemorate the chains, which were removed by the angel when he was imprisoned by Herod (See Acts 12).

As the priest came out with the parish icon, in procession, and put it on display for public veneration, I was struck a thought that was a powerful reminder to me. As I approached to venerate the icon with my children and my parish, I was reminded that this veneration is an act of love. Love for who? Well, the most obvious answer is – Christ. But I am going to go out on a limb and say it’s “more” than that.

What do I mean by that? In 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 Paul tells us that all things are ours, that we are Christ’s and Christ is God’s. As an extension of my love for Christ, I love the saints. I love my parish and the brothers and sisters I worship with. I love my priest. While worship and adoration belong to Christ alone, I love and honor what He has given me in His Church. I know that I get into the rhythm of “doing the things Orthodox Christians are supposed to do” and mechanically venerate an icon, or make the sign of the cross, or say the prayers. But the sense of love that I had as I watched my priest hold that icon of St Peter’s Chains aloft, was a good refresher for me.

In fact, it was a great topic to bring up to my daughters, who just started their catechism in preparation for Holy Baptism on Great and Holy Saturday of this year (God willing). I had a great time sharing the love we express through veneration with them. I need to remember that their experiences of the faith are just being formed. They don’t need to just know “what we do,”  but also, why we do it. It’s a joy to see the lights click on during our talks.

Heck, it’s nice when my own lights click on. Thanks be to God for the “all things” we have in His Church and in His Saints, for they and we consist in Him, who is our Life.

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