So we all believe, we all are so minded, we all give our consent and have signed.  This is the faith of the Apostles, this is the faith of the Orthodox, this is the faith which hath made firm the whole world.  Believing in one God, to be celebrated in Trinity, we salute the honourable images!

Decree of the Seventh Ecumenical Council

This might seem like an odd spiritual text to reflect on. After all, it is not the wisdom of a hermit, but the decree of a Church council. Nevertheless, it has something at its heart that is central to ancient Christian piety. Today, in the Orthodox Church, we celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy, commemorating the end of the iconoclastic controversy that spanned over a century and claimed countless martyrs for the faith. The victory of the Orthodox making and veneration of holy icons is, to me, a day of great hope: many people lived and died and fought for this faith, never to see the victory in their own lifetime. But today, Orthodox churches are covered in beautiful icons; all their effort was not in vain. In addition to this feast day, tomorrow is the Feast of the Annunciation and Tuesday is the Jewish Pesach (Passover). The theme of hope runs through these celebrations as well, and it is this that I would like to explore here as a matter of everyday asceticism. Continue reading