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The Feast Of Resurrection – The Feast Of New Hopes

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The Feast of Resurrection is the feast of feasts for the Christian Church. The resurrection of Jesus marks a complete turnaround in history. History became ‘His Story’. This is the feast of the victory of Truth over falsehood. This is the day of reunion for the dispersed disciples on account of the terror of the death of their Leader. This great fest marks the beginning of new hope for entire humanity. This is the feast of the resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. A few thoughts on this glorious feast:

1. Resurrection: The Feast of ultimate triumph of the truth

The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate triumph of the truth. While questioning Jesus, Pontius Pilate asked Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). But Jesus kept quiet. It was not the opportune time to answer this vexed question. The intention behind the incarnation of Jesus was described by him in this manner: “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). The real aim of the coming of Jesus to this world who gave up his life for the cause of Truth was neither understood by the High Priests of Jewish community, nor the high officials of the Roman Empire. They crucified the Truth and the Untruth had a temporary victory over the Truth.

However, through His Resurrection the Truth was reborn. Those who believed the words of Jesus, and those who put their faith in Him whole-heartedly and those who followed Him suffered lot of pains at His passion and death. The challenging question before them was, “Is Jesus a reality or a myth?” Those who mocked him challenged him to come down from the cross. When falsehood celebrates temporal victory the believers are even challenged to raise the question of Jesus’ mockers. It takes Truth sometime to triumph. The truth only triumphs ultimately and this was proved through His resurrection. The Truth which died on the cross on Friday was raised again on Sunday.

The age old tradition of Indian hermits, who chants “lead us from untruth to Truth”, came to pass in the resurrection of Jesus. This proved that the triumph of untruth was just temporary. The resurrection of Jesus thus opened the way of hope for those who bear witness to truth. His victory inspires those who are allegedly persecuted or tortured for bearing witness to truth. The Apostles and martyrs stood by truth to point of death and set the tradition of witnessing Jesus to the contemporary society. Let Easter be a motivation to stand for the truth.

2. Resurrection: The Dawn of new hope of Immortality

The desire to be free from the clutches of death is as old as human origin. The ancient Sanskrit chanting of the Indian sages “let us lead from death to immortality” also reflects the same desire. But how this could be achieved? Death reigns in humanity through sin of one human being, Adam. From Adam till Christ death got victory over the body of early human beings. But through Christ humanity got a new birth. St. Paul says, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being (1 Corinthians 15:20- 21). The death which entered humanity through Adam was replaced with life through the resurrection of Second Adam, Christ.

Thus the feast of resurrection proclaims a new horizon for humanity, the resurrection. The humanity lives in the hope of future resurrection. St. Paul aptly summarizes this hope as he says, “So all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (15:23). Humanity now has the hope of sharing the glorified body like Christ’s which He had after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:47-49). It was Christ’s resurrection which gave such hope to mankind that our decaying body will be transformed into the glorified body like Christ’s (Philippians 3:21).

The relationship between Jesus and believers became more intense and personal through the sacramental presence of Jesus. The faithful also shares the unique experience of the Emmaus disciples at the Breaking of Bread (Lk 24:31, 35). The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of this kind of a sacramental relationship between Christ and the believers. Believers become part of Christ’s Body through sacraments. Our participation in his death and resurrection takes place in Baptism (Rom. 6:5). The believers are kept alive in the body of Christ through Holy Eucharist (1 Cor. 10:16). When a believer dies this relation cannot be broken because of the hope of resurrection. Though death seems to raise an obstacle between Christ and a believer in reality for a believer death is only a sleep in Christ.

Jesus came to this world to give life in abundance. He revealed the hope of resurrection in his public ministry. He proved that He has authority over dead by raising the dead. In the context of raising Lazarus, Jesus proclaimed “I am the resurrection and the life those who believe in me even though they die will live” (John 11:25). He became bread and wine to give everlasting life to his followers. Thus after His resurrection the Church celebrates the Holy Eucharist to remember His self giving and to sustain eternal life for His followers. His resurrection became a reason of the hope that His followers will also receive the same life He had after the resurrection.

3. Resurrection: The Feast of Strengthening the Marginalized

We see the empowerment of the marginalized in the feast of Jesus’ resurrection. The dispersed disciples gathered together to celebrate the good news of the resurrection of their Master. The disciples run away the moment when Jesus was arrested. St. Peter who had declared that he would not deny Christ even if he had to die with Him, denied Christ. The arrest of Jesus paralyzed the disciples and His blood shuddering death completely dispirited them. Jesus appeared to them with the greeting of ‘peace’. This rejuvenated the disciples and relieved them from fear. Jesus strengthens them by assuring them that His presence would always be with them (Matthew 28:20).

The resurrection caused the unprecedented empowerment of women, who were the first witness of His resurrection. To a great extend, the Easter faith is built around empty tomb. It is the women who came to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body found the tomb empty. Their initial perplexity was taken away by the testimony of angels. The women in turn proclaimed the good news of the resurrection of Jesus to the apostles and others (Luke 24:9-10). Jesus chides the disciples, who were hard to believe the words of women, points the reality of resurrection announced by the women (24:22-226). Just as His public ministry heightens the position of women, His resurrection also strengthened them.

This act of women might have appeared bizarre to the male dominated then existed community. However, it is quite natural for the women to become witness of this unique event because they are unique to Jesus. They were empowered in His public ministry. He made women His co- partners in His ministry breaking the shackles of patriarchal fabric of the Jewish community. They assisted Jesus and His disciples with their resources (Luke 8:3). In company with them, Jesus preached the Good News of the Kingdom of God in the various towns and villages. The women left behind their homes and their loved ones to follow Him. As followers of Jesus they became His disciples (Luke 23:49, 55).

This close relation of the women with Jesus continues even after His death. Neither the fear of crucifixion, nor the presence of the Roman soldiers, nor the darkness was any stumbling blocks in their pursuit of following Jesus. Deemed as powerless and feeble, the women gather strength through the resurrection of Christ. The history of the early church also attests the witness of women (Acts 1:14).

Jesus’ resurrection strengthens the mankind who became weak through sin. His resurrection strengthens the relationship, which was drifted because of human sin, between human beings and God. The whole creation which became disfigured by departing away from the glory of God finds reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Thus human beings received courage and hope for a closer relationship to God through Jesus Christ.

4. Resurrection: The Feast that Lays New Responsibility

The resurrection of Jesus was a very unique event. Jesus was looking forward to this day to entrust new responsibilities to His disciples. He already chose them to be His witnesses to continue His ministry after He had gone from the world. Resurrection is the turning point in taking up this responsibility.

Jesus’ resurrection reunited the disciples to be His witnesses. His appearance comforted the disciples. He charged them to be His witnesses throughout the nations. He promised another Comforter (Holy Spirit) to guide them in the way they take up the ministry. If there was no resurrection the fate of the disciples would have been different from what they became. The disciples spread the good news of Resurrection throughout the world and offered new life in Christ.

The task before the Christian Church is to be His faithful servant in the contemporary society. The forces that crucified Jesus on the cross exist in our society in manifold ways. The good news of resurrection not only over powers these forces but also facilitates new life in Christ. The Church needs to present a crucified and resurrected Jesus to the world today. The message of cross is of less acceptance in our time. Resurrection proclaims the cross and the life there after. Thus, resurrection lays the foundation for a continued ministry of the Church. The feast of Resurrection is not meant to be celebrated on personal levels but it should be celebrated throughout the world in communion with others.

I wish all readers a very Happy Easter.

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Good Friday in Dubai observed with prayers for peace

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DUBAI: Solemn services marked Good Friday across the UAE as throngs of Christian worshippers packed churches for prayers, sermons and meditation. More than 15,000 worshippers, young and old, came together at St Thomas Orthodox Cathedral in Dubai.

Baselius Marthoma Paulose II, Catholicose of the East and Malankara Metropolitan and supreme head of the Indian Orthodox Syrian Church, was the chief celebrant and led the liturgy that commenced at 7.30am with morning prayers. Reverend Father T.J. Johnson, vicar of the church, Reverend Father Leny Chacko, vice vicar, and Reverend Father Nelson John were co-celebrants. The Catholicose said the UAE was a shining example of religious tolerance and harmony. He lauded the rulers of the country for their vision for 
the country and compassion for 
all people.

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A food for thought on the Holy Week Services in the Orthodox Churches

Holy-week
The holy Week is again the round the corner. The people around the world are getting ready for long liturgical services with great zeal and fasting. Why do we observe this ‘particular week’ with so much solemnity? We all know its significance is solely because of its connection with the passion of Christ, the sum total of the traumas that our Lord had to endure for a new world order. During this solemn season, we specifically commemorate and celebrate the episodes of those past events happened in the life of Christ the incarnate. Every liturgy in the holy Orthodox Church is fashioned as a spiritual exercise for the edification of the faithful. The pious observance of the holy week gives us an opportunity to identify ourselves with the incarnation of Christ whereby we show our solidarity with his salvific work and we are particularly bestowed with the vital energy for our ‘deification’.

The Passion Week service in the Orthodox Syrian Church is packed with a plethora of rites and rituals. Each rubric has its own meaning attached to the activity of Christ. The liturgy in the holy Church is the means of living along the life of Christ, to be precise, a re-living with the Lord. The Old Testament liturgies were the shadow of the Christ’s incarnation where as the New Testament liturgies are its reflection. Moreover, it is the copy and shadow of what is in heaven (Hebrews 8:5). In other words, it is a foretaste of eschatological life in heaven. Orthodox liturgy is as vast and as deep as an Ocean in terms of its theological meaning. No one can fathom the depths of it. Nevertheless, let us glance through some of the symbolic activity that is being done during the holy week and prayerfully try to ponder over and meditate upon its meaning based on biblical references.

The Palm Sunday service: – The special service in addition to Holy Eucharist on the day is the blessing of the ‘tender palm leaves’ and offering of flowers taken out from the products of the Nature. It is, in a sense, God’s acceptance of the offerings from the faithful and His reciprocal love of giving it back as a blessed gift. This shows that the earth and its fullness are for God as said in Psalm 24:1. Bible makes a picturesque reference on the triumphal entry of Jesus, the king and saviour, into the city of Jerusalem (Mat 21). The people gathered there to receive him began shouting the slogan “Hosanna” (Save Lord, Praise). It is both a word of praise and prayer. They spread their clothing and branches from the tree on the pathways. In tandem with this historical event, we use the articles such as palm leaves and flowers for the procession around the church during the liturgy. In the Bible, we see a multitude of God’s people clad in white robes worshiping God and His lamb with palm leaves in their hands(Revelation 7:9). The procession in the holy Church on Palm Sunday is a prelude to the triumphal entry of the King of kings and Lord of lords and his bride into the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev 19, 21). The blessed leaves, after the holy service, are given out to the faithful for their healing and absolution from every curse as has been promised in Revelation 22:2-3. The Bible exhorts everyone to raise praises to God emphasizing the importance of this celebration(Genesis 49:8-12,Zachariah 9:9-12,Isaiah 51:9-11,1 John 2:7-15,Romans 11:3-24,Psalm 118:24-29, 92:12-14, 8,80). The faithful takes away the blessed leaves to their homes for their blessing. Thus, by partaking in the orthodox liturgy; one is able to experience the ecstasy of the worships of both past and future in the present time.

Pesaha service: – The annual and elaborate ‘Passover’ feast of the people of Israel came into vogue in Old Testament period as their mode of commemoration and celebration of the Passing over of the angel of destruction (Exodus 12:14). They celebrated this feast by sacrificing a lamb and eating of it. The death of Christ on the mount Calvary, according to the holy Bible, was a new sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb replacing the old paschal lamb. (1 Corinthians 5:7). At the time of our Lord’s death on the Cross, the Jews were killing the paschal lamb in commemoration of the first Passover. Our Lord knowing that he would be sacrificed at the same time when the Jews would kill their paschal lamb instituted the New Testament Passover a day earlier. He took the leavened bread (lahamo) and fermented wine and said “This is my body…and this is my blood”. Thus, in the bloodless sacrifice of the holy Eucharist, the bloodshed sacrifice of the Old Testament Passover comes to an end. The changed bread and wine continue to give us the benefit of forgiveness from sins and the release from Captivity of Satan. The modern Passover meal, Holy Communion, is also a foretaste of the heavenly banquet as said in Revelation 19:17 and the participation in the eschatological worship in advance as narrated in Rev. 5:9 ff.

The Service on Good Friday: – There are two processions on this day. The first one is the procession around the Church in memory of the Christ’s way of Cross to Mount Calvary. When we do this procession, we travel in time-machine to that past event in history. We know that when Christ was bearing the Cross on his way, Simon the Cyrene was blessed to have joined in carrying the Cross of Christ. (Luke 23:26-31). So also, on every Good Friday, we too are given a chance to partake in Christ’s economy of salvation. The second ceremonial procession on the day gives us, by virtue of being his children and disciples, a chance to participate in the burial service of our Lord along with Joseph of Arimathea, Nichodemus. A deep reading of the Bible reveals the fact that Mary of Bethany, and the Magi from the East too were privileged to offer homage to the Lord. Their offering of myrrh betokens of this truth. Since Christ is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow (Heb 13:8), and he, being the pre-existent Word of God(John 1: 1-18,8: 58) and lives forever(Heb 7:25), transcends the time-space continuum to interact with and save all people of all time. The ritualistic liturgy is the only realistic means by which we get the benefits of the sacrifice of Jesus which took place in history once and for all. Another ritual on Good Friday is the washing of the holy Cross, made of wood, and dipping its horns into the bitter water, the concoction. It is, in a sense, an empathic and vicarious way of joining Christ in receiving the bitter juice that was given to him while on the Cross (Mat 27:34). We see in the Exodus 14-15, that Moses, Aaron and the people of Israel crossing the Red Sea after having been released from the bondage of Pharaoh in Egypt. This crossing implies the Christian Baptism and their walking for three days in the desert points to the Christian life of sufferings. We see Moses throwing a “piece of wood” to the bitter water in Marah after saying a prayer. The use of a piece of wood by Moses here was a prophetic symbolism of the Cross of Christ, the universal saviour. The bitter water served to the fasting faithful at the end of the service on the day can be said of as the merciful caring of God of his people today just as He cared His old people at Marah. After that, we see them coming to Elim where they camped by the side of 12 springs and 70 palm trees. The twelve springs and 70 palm trees prefigure the 12 apostles and 70 evangelists of the New Testament Church respectively. (Ref:-Matthew 10 and Luke 10). Their arrival in Elim is indicative of the new and inexplicable experience of Christian Church with the risen Christ.

Gospel Saturday: – The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is generally known as Gospel Saturday. The holy Church began to observe this day as the day of commemoration of all the departed souls, in line with the going down of Christ into Hades after his crucifixion. Since Christ went to Hades to preach gospel to the departed souls there, it has its own place in the rites of the Church (1 Peter 3:19, 4:6). Bible speaks clearly that God has been merciful towards both living and the departed alike (Ruth 2:20). Since Christ’s redeeming mission includes even the departed souls, it is the Church’s responsibility to carry out the Lord’s mission for the salvation of all for and on His behalf in all humility, faith, hope and love. The Holy Communion celebrated on this day gives us an opportunity to have a fellowship with all the departed souls gone before us and to intercede for them so that they may get grace from the Lord. It is in a way, reaching out to the people of God on the other side of the veil of time.

The Easter Sunday: – ‘Easter’ is the most important feast for the people of Orthodoxy. Its importance is mainly because of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is in tune with the resurrection of Christ that the Church began observing Sunday as the New Sabbath day replacing the old Sabbath of Saturday. Lord Jesus rested on gospel Saturday in Hades fulfilling the old Sabbath as he did at the beginning of creation in his capacity as God, and began his new creation on the very next day, 1st or the 8th in the cycle of week, providing new phase of life for humanity. This is the reason why St. Paul said, “When one is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As St. Paul said, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”

(I Corinthians 15:14. This feast gives us an opportunity to confess with our mouth that Jesus is our Lord and to believe in our heart that He was indeed raised from the dead fulfilling the biblical verse of Romans 10:9 in our lives and reassuring of our salvation. We all know that the risen Lord was seen appearing to many a people in various places and giving them all peace and Joy.

The main attraction of the day is the holy Cross clad in red clothing symbolizing the victory of Christ over death and evil. Isaiah 63 and Revelation 19: 11ff speak of this symbolism. Another main ritual attached to this feast is the elevation of the holy Cross and the blessing of the four directions, East, West, North and South. The biblical basis for this ritual is the Lords command to Abraham, “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring for ever…Go walk through the length and breadth of the land for I am giving it to you”.(Genesis 13: 14 ff) By this ritual, God renews his covenant with us and we are given the whole world for the service of God as stewards. By so doing, we are in fact, blessing the whole world in the Name of the risen Lord. The last commissioning of our Lord Jesus Christ is very relevant at this point, to go out into peoples everywhere and to make them His disciples by baptizing and teaching them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit(Mat 28:19). We are duty bound to comply with his commandments. We see Abraham afterwards going to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron where he is seen building an altar for God. It is indicative of the necessity of our coming closer to the holy Altar throughout our life. The active and sincere participation in every service of the holy week takes us to a blissful experience, and helps us to lead a life of repentance and righteousness.

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“Significance of Symbols in Orthodox Christian Faith”

symbols1x
Symbolism is defined as the art or practice of expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representation. Symbols make the communication and understanding effective and efficient in the field of Science, Art, Technology and Religion. In symbols two things are brought together, first something that is real and second something that represents that which is real. His Grace Dr. Mathews Mar Severios stated in his sermon on ‘Symbolism in Christian Worship’, “Worldly symbols are static and lifeless. But Christian symbols are dynamic and vibrant. Christian symbols are not meant for exhibition, but as a medium to reveal divine grace and experience it by means of sacraments.”

Symbols have a place in Christian worship as early as we can establish. The origin of Symbolism in Christianity can be traced to the catacombs. Catacombs were underground cemeteries, where Christians came together for fellowship in fear of persecution in the early days of our church history. There commences the earliest usage of symbols. St. Basil the great says, “Honoring the images leads to the prototype.”1Symbols used in Orthodox liturgy includes things, images, gestures and rituals with a definite meaning and purpose designed by the Holy Spirit inspired the fathers of our church. St. John Chrysostom cautions non-believers saying, “Dishonor shown to an image is dishonor shown to the original.”2 Purpose In Christianity, symbols are the medium holding the force and grace of manifesting the ineffable God to man. In other words, these signs carry us beyond the worldly realm into the true union and knowledge of things that are eternal and divine. Symbols serve to make invisible the visible. “For the invisible things of God since the creation of the world is made visible through the things that are made” (Romans 1:20). We see images in creation which remind us faintly the glory of God. (Psalm 19:1-3) A Symbol can represent something in the future, mystically shadowing forth what is to occur. For example, the ark represents the image of the mother of God; the burning bushes without being consumed prefigure the virgin birth (Exodus 3:2); the serpent brings before us him who vanquished on the cross the bite of the original serpent (John 3:14); the sea is a figure of baptism in water, the cloud represents the blessing of baptism in spirit (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). Even the law is depicted as a shadow of good things to come by St. Paul (Hebrew 10:1).

Symbols can be an expression of the past events; to help those who look upon it in after times that we may avoid evil and imitate goodness. St. Athanasius the great illustrates that, “The Jew worshipped the tablets of the law and the two golden cherubim in carved work, not because they honored gold or stone itself, but the Lord who has ordered them to be made.”3 (Jos.4:21-22, Ex.28:11-12, Ex.17:14). Leo, Bishop of Neopolis in Cyprus says, “We are worshiping Christ through the cross, not the wood of the cross.”

Our Lord Jesus used a lot of symbols during his public ministry to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven and to teach mankind the right course of life and eternity. The parables are exclusively symbolic presentations to make things more comprehensible. (John 8:12; John 10:11, 14; John 10:7, 9; John 14:6; John 15:1, 5; Revelation 1:8,11, 17; Revelation 22:16; Mathew 5:13,14; John 1:29)

Worship is the symbol of veneration and of honor. There are different degrees of worship. St. John of Damascus had made the well-known distinction between Absolute worship and Relative worship. Absolute worship (Worship of Latria), is given to the God, who alone by nature is worthy of worship. Relative worship is the veneration given to material objects which remind us of God, to the saints who have gone before, and to our fellow Christians. For instance, Abraham bows before the sons of Heth (Gen.23: 7); Jacob bowed to the ground seven times before his brother Esau (Gen. 33:3), Brothers of Joseph bows before him (Gen.50: 18); Joshua bows before the messenger of the Gods (Jos. 5:14). It is for the sake of the God who is worshipful by nature, we honor his saints and servants (1 Sam.2:30). The creature is never to be worshipped instead of creator.

Distinctiveness
In Orthodox faith, Symbols never reflects the reality in an absolute way. They always leave something unstated. St. John of Damascus confirms that, “An image is a likeness of the original with a certain difference, for it is not an exact reproduction of original.”4 This allows symbols to serve as the proper language for what Orthodox theology calls “mystery”. God reveals himself to us through symbols of the Church. St. Gregory of Nazianzen endorses an image as an essential representation of its original5.

The mother Orthodox Church has always used visible things to help us understand invisible realities, which is beyond the reach of our senses. The use of symbols is a mode of revelation and communion, which surpasses verbal or intellectual communication. Symbols are not directly related to the realities in a literal sense. Instead, it stands for deep and broad meanings. It is simple, profound, and unique. St. John of Damascus echoes, “The image is a memorial, just what words are to listening ear. What a book is to the literate that an image is to the illiterate. The image speaks to the sight as words to the ear; it brings us understanding.”6

Symbolism is not about technical explications, but the quintessence of spirituality. Christian symbol has its basis on divine revelations. It is not evolved from self-desire. Instead, it is the Holy Spirit inspired representations. Symbols are meant to be edifying and for the purpose of preparing mankind to attain the perfection of the heavenly father. For example, the infinite god was revealed and comprehended as one and triune. It is not meant for intellectual debate and is beyond human understanding. It can be understood only through prayer, faith and the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Understanding the Symbols
Symbols used in sacrament can be comprehended only by faith. The first step in understanding a holy symbol is to have unification between the spiritual meaning of the symbol and us, in the Holy Spirit. It is not an intellectual or theoretical study. Intellectual approach seals the door of understanding of the symbols in the sacraments. It is not to be understood by the external elements and gestures. It is to be contemplated in spirit.

The understanding of symbols in the sacraments and church is beyond sensual experience. It facilitates the exaltation of the creature in the likeness and image of the creator, through meditating unfathomable acts of the creator behind the creation. Man is destined to bear the image of the uncreated God. We have to accept this mystery with gratitude and obedience towards our creator. It is not an imaginary contemplation through prayers. The vain imagination can lead us into spiritual distress. St. John of Damascus reinstates the essence of comprehending symbols in liturgy testifying, “I do not worship matter, but I worship the Creator of matter, who for my sake became material and deigned to dwell in matter, who through matter effected my salvation.”7 The use of material objects and even images in worship enjoys a sanction in the Old Testament; for the Ark of the Covenant was adorned with the cherubim and Aaron’s staff and the tablets were placed within, and the God commanded Moses to make an image of a serpent to heal all who were bitten by snakes in the wilderness.

Holy Qurbana is not an intellectual remembrance to mediate. We should partake in it believing it is the body and blood of Christ for our internal transformation and purification. There are a lot of symbols used in the Holy Qurbana as things, gestures and rituals which can be realized and experienced only in worship with truth and the Holy Spirit. Besides, the Architecture of our Churches, virtually everything we see in an Orthodox Church symbolizes and calls to mind some aspect of our meeting with eternal Divinity.

The study we have here is pretty brief. Everything, we do in our sacraments and other rituals have its own meaning and purpose. Neither more nor less, everything is done in the exact capacity being designed by the fathers of the church inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is tedious to discuss everything in detail in a succinct analysis. In a nutshell, symbols in the Orthodox worship are not to be taken as pieces of artistic device; rather as windows or doors into spiritual world. They are designed to enhance the spiritual life of the believer through emulating the virtues of the prototype. Consequently, symbols can be a blessing in our lives if we use them in a spiritual way.

Sources:
1 St. John of Damascus, Holy Images, Translated by Mary H Allies, Thomas Baker, London, 1898, p.24.
2. Ibid. p.121.
3. Ibid. p.120.
4. Ibid. p.10
5. Ibid. p.112
6. Ibid. p.19
7. Ibid. p.16