The following article was published in the Arlington Catholic Herald:

Children hold their icons during a special blessing at Epiphany of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church in Annandale March 5 on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

Children hold their icons during a special blessing at Epiphany of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church in Annandale March 5 on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

CatholicHerald.com - Imagine you are a Christian living in the eastern part of the Roman Empire in the eighth century, and your essential instrument of prayer is an image of Jesus, Mary or a saint. Suddenly, the emperor bans the veneration of icons. Soldiers strip holy images from churches, and those caught with an icon are punished. Nearly 100 years later, icons and holy images were welcomed back.

Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians commemorate the restoration of holy images on the first Sunday of Lent when they were returned to the empire in 843. The celebration is known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and parishioners of Epiphany of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church in Annandale marked the day by bringing icons and holy images to be blessed March 5.

Children stood in the church’s aisle during Divine Liturgy, holding icons of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St. George and other saints to be blessed by Father John G. Basarab, the pastor.

In his homily, Father Basarab told the history of the Iconoclastic Controversy that began when Emperor Leo III took the first commandment literally, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image … ”

The emperor commanded his soldiers to remove and destroy icons from all places. The debate of venerating images of Christ led to the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.

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Teachings of Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching." (Proverbs 4:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

"'And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan' [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: `Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'"

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (190 AD), Fragment 34