16 Artikel/Aufsätze von Alexej Saweljew


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Nature of the icon

The liturgical Icon

Art history

The homeless icon

The icon’s mission

Icons and the Church

The icon is Christian.

The Saint and his Icon

Icon and Religion

Two churches

The icon and its substance

The Holy Icon

The Church and the Icon

Icon Writers

The icon does not represent “tradition”

To think is human!


Dear Visitor!


Nature of the icon

Artists are fortunate.  They paint a representative “old chap” with a philosopher's beard and a sword, fill in the rest to match the style and fashion of the time, and the modern Church is enriched by yet another picture or representation of the holy apostle Paul.  But what happens if the artist omits the sword?  What then?  Then all that is left is the old chap with the philosopher’s beard, for without his sword the holy apostle is no longer authentic!  The icon has no special attributes, neither does it need any.  Any details added for the purpose of its being recognised are superfluous.  The main objective is that the saint’s personal likeness is preserved and passed on out of love and respect.  It makes no difference where the icon originated or how old it is - an icon of the holy apostle Paul will always be just that and will bear his name. 
The inscription as a sign of the icon’s completion is a confirmation of the icon’s inner truth.  The inscription is also a certification, proof that the icon is the spiritual property of the saint represented.    The inscribed icon has to be consecrated.  By virtue of the strength purveyed through the consecration of the Mystery, the icon is accepted into the service of the Church.
Christians are convinced that the inscribed and consecrated icon, through the presence of the saint portrayed, plays an active role in Church service.  This why it is called the “living” icon: Christianity is not a great show of power by God, neither is it a proof thereof.   God is the fountainhead of those lives in which love and spirituality prevail (doxa).   God's artistry manifests itself through the holy saint, HIS creation. 
In order that we may better know, love and honour the saints, who form an essential part of our Church, the living icon was given to us.  The Church honours and celebrates the holy icon; it is a sanctuary where this holy object may be received joyfully, to play its part in the veneration of the Lord.  The glory of God and mankind’s future cannot be separated without destroying the harmony of Creation. 


A history of Art

IIn the beginning God created heaven and earth.  “…may the waters bring forth living creatures and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven….”.  Then God said: “let the earth bring forth living creatures after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth…”.  Before man was created the birds of the sky and all the animals which stirred on earth were full of life and playfully sang and danced.  Play is the beginning and prerequisite for any form of art!  Aspiration to beauty and artistry are innate to all living beings.  God said: “Let us make man in our image….”.  And men sang and danced; decorated themselves and their surroundings with beautiful things and vivid colours.  This joy of living, sense of aesthetics, desire for adornment and natural playfulness gave rise to all art ever created and, like a mighty strong tree, it firmly took root in all areas of life. 

The trunk of this “tree” of art was formed by many different cultures.  It was influenced by talented artistic personalities.  From it, over the course of time, two branches developed – the interpretative arts and the fine arts.  Art, therefore, is not just culture, but the fruit of culture, serving mankind as decoration, pleasure or amusement, according to what is currently popular! It is wonderful when artists paint pictures full of poetry and fantasy; but when these artists penetrate the transfigured world of the icon, they inevitably produce classic kitsch, God made “understandable”.   In art the name of the artist is of major importance.  No artist can live without a name.  A painting of the Madonna is only valuable if it was painted by Rubens or Raffael.  In contrast, an icon of the Holy Virgin Mary does not have to have been created by Raffael; the icon is the spiritual property of the saint represented and not of the artist!  An icon of Jesus Christ was not created to honour the artist, but Christ himself.  The iconographer is merely God’s servant, the upholder of the holy tradition, and God alone knows his name.

 Psychology of the picture:

The Greek word Eikon means simile, similarity or personality; in contrast a picture is pinax, idyll or idol. There is an Isographen, Ikonographen
or Hagiographen, that the holy personality from the excessive quantity without
own imagination describes. If an art lover considers a picture,
if an intellectual business always appears. The painting becomes logically in
Details disassembles, piece for piece analyzed, examined and criticized, then
judges by taste and raison.
With an icon there is to analyze nothing and to criticize! Before him
Sanctuary the raison is silent! Humblely becomes the holy personality from her
transfigured world conceive festively. All other is a theory.


The icon’s mission

Man, God’s creation, is made of skin and bones, as we all know.  In addition,  he is capable of reason, understanding and modern (sometimes inhuman) intellect, all wrapped up in a wonderful concoction of sweet, bitter and sour yet always tantalizing feelings.  At the centre of all these feelings is man’s heart.  If man lets his life be controlled by his feelings, he is nothing more than a voracious animal or a shapeless figure full of sugary emotions, fanciful illusion and fanatic “isms”!  If he depends primarily on his intellect, he becomes a cold, sapless functionary or official, making his own laws and living by them.  But there is another dimension to man apart from physicality, intellect and feelings.  It is the SOUL, which all creation, including flora and fauna, possesses.  Is it an inner vision and immortal substance?  We must ask ourselves, does the healthy soul – scientific psychology – promote life and does the sick soul – psychiatry – hinder it?   Does the soul “escape” after death?  Many people believe that after death the soul wanders from one being to another.  Let us remember, the soul has to do with life!  God has to do with life.  Therefore, the soul represents the bridge between man and God.  Through his soul, man is “spiritualized” by God!

Christianity makes it very clear that feelings, intellect and physicality are all steeped in love, truth, wisdom and freedom, like a sponge in water.  This means that all Christians live in a state of mercy, beyond all space and time!  Through God the Father and his son Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit the Christian Church of Love was created, a Church in which God the Creator is one with his creation – MANKIND - through the Eucharistic Mystery!  The Church is a place where death has no power and love knows no boundaries.  The holy apostles, the Church patriarchs and the martyrs were called upon by God to establish, organise and preserve the Church.  The Virgin Mary herself placed the Church under her protection.  The apostles provided the firm foundation on which the patriarchs built the Church, and the martyrs fortified it, strengthened by the enduring impression of Christ’s suffering!  These truths are relevant today more than ever!  We possess a Church made up of two parts, the worldly and the heavenly or divine. Of the two, the heavenly is the more important part, for without it, the worldly part would have no meaning and would degenerate to a “listless, dying association”!

The Iconostasis (the picture wall) demonstrates how, through the individual icons, salvation and holy presence are preserved.  The Iconostasis is the soul of the church, connecting the human community with the divine Holiness and allowing it to become a living unity!

                     Life in God - not the doctrine of God!


The icon is Christian.

Let us leave “art” to man and the world of aesthetics, epicures and consumers which it nourishes.

Let us enter instead the spiritual and transfigured world.  All denominations, religions and religious doctrines were invented by persons seeking God.  Today there are more than 300 "Christian" churches and each one believes itself alone to be the right or even the "more right" one, the one representing and possessing the true doctrine.  However, Christianity is not a doctrine of denomination (theology), but is God's compassion, which can only be experienced when the mind is free of all intellect and through the living content of the icon!

God's forgiveness - the New Covenant - has, through the incarnation and resurrection of his son Jesus Christ, transformed the universe to a place of truth and love.  Through his presence and through holy tradition, Christ has established HIS ONE CHURCH, which no theologians can destroy!  Holy convention is not simply a collecting point for traditions, customs, rites, and cultures, but is also a guideline for the employment of the manifested truth!  God is life and without His life there can be no other life!  Christian tradition safeguards the meaning and purpose of life; it is the source of the holy scriptures!

The communion table (agia trapesa) with the iconostasis (diastyla) and the consecrated priest represent the traditional, triumphant, liturgical Church itself.  The iconostasis, with its holy gate, unfurls for us the realm of God, where the core of the Church – the communion table – conveys God’s presence.  There, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the priest is may administer the Mysteries of the Church. 

Like the Church, the icon is born of God’s love for us and it lives through the love of God it conveys!  The icon is a service to us and our service to God, consecrated for the service of the Church!  The icon is always connected with the person of Jesus Christ for our salvation!  Christians cannot live without sacred relics.  This is why, in Orthodoxy, icons are found in every Believer’s house, facing eastward in the direction of prayer.  In primeval times, the fire or hearth was the place where the clan gathered and also where sacrifices were made.  To this day, people with soulful feelings like to gather around a fireplace , enjoying each other’s company.  For Christians today, the hearth is no longer the focal point of life, but the dinner table.  The icon stands (it doesn’t “hang”) above the table, a lighted candle before it, and the collective prayer unites all at the table with the consecrated icons.  Christians do not enter and leave Church therefore, they are in it constantly, even in their homes!

We may look at a church, a beautiful building on a square, richly decorated with domes, crosses and statues, inside with crosses, frescoes and mosaics, with gold and precious stones.  There the divine mysteries are solemnly and festively celebrated as thanks for their service as instruments of God’s compassion.  With days of special worship, the festal icons accompany the life of the Christian Church of the world through all time and space. 


Icon and Religion

Because man is created in God’s image, he carries God’s presence within him.  He is a living icon of God!  Because God became man, man may also become godly!  “Christian, recognize your dignity!” .(Saint Leo the Great)
As worthy Christians, we attempt here and now to recognize the difference between the holy icon and religious art.  It isn’t very difficult.  A Christian has no problems with his or her life – it has been loaned to him or her, and he or she regards it as his or her duty, to return it unspoiled, in freedom and with joy. 
That is all!  And so simple!  Others see life as a gift, to be made use of by oneself as desired, or by others - which may cause problems!  Since all problems are of an artificial nature it is only natural that problems give rise to artificial religions, which prosper and grow.  There are many religions, almost all of which are but empty structures, which anyone can fill with whatever he or she wishes!  Without fanaticism there would be no religions!  All religions have misused and falsified religious belief in order to validate themselves!
Every founder of a religion invented his own doctrinal theology, at the centre of which stood not the divine service, but the founder’s own doctrine and interpretation, and these were to be fiercely defended.  On this basis, the religious person’s life became practical and comfortable – one believes only that which is taught and that which is allowed - that which one wants. Thinking is not required!  A large number of theological writings and art histories do not differentiate between the Christian icon and religious art.  This is like throwing strawberries and salted herrings into one bowl.  It is therefore little wonder that from the 13th century to this day, the worthy Christian suffers from an upset stomach and a guilty conscience.
By means of theological acrobatics, the Church of the Mystery has in some instances been overwhelmed by artificial religions.  In these religions, liturgical icons have become profane works of art, all supposedly deeply religious.  God is portrayed as a good-natured old man, the Son of God as a corpse, and the Holy virgin as a beautiful maiden. 
Church service becomes human service, the priest an official, the Church an office, as desired!  All manner of theologies have been invented, scientific sermons held, ecumenical and “peace movements” founded, and innumerable associations, seminaries, academies, institutes, seminars, etc. set up and visited.  But what of the worthy Christians?  Well, they fled and sought solace with gurus!
God is almighty, but HE does not force us to fulfill his wishes!
As the noteworthy servant of God, Alexander E. Solschenitzyn, says today, “Should we perish and lose God’s world, it will be our own fault”


The icon and its substance

Iconographic tradition is a feature of the Church that does not distinguish between what is heavenly and what is worldly.  That is why the icon stands above our worldly reality, thereby contradicting the laws of science.  Light and shadow, place and time, perspective, anatomy and colour all lose their importance.  The icon is made up of two parts.  The first and most important is the portrayal of the holy person, whose name the icon carries and whom we recognize.  The character of the holy person  portrayed must be instantly recognisable and tradition must be respected.  The second part requires dexterity and understanding of the material to be used for the outer frame of the icon, as it is not simply dead matter, but often has an intensive life of its own.  Colours, for instance, are a motley group with a great deal of inflexibility and varying moods.  Colours do not like to stand alone.  They come alive only in the presence of other colours.  If a colour finds its ‘neighbour(s)’ agreeable, it will ‘sing and dance’; if not, then the colours will chide and fight each other and become gloomy.   If they are all put in one pot as playful individuals, they tend to become pale and unhappy.  The most important characteristic of colours is their disposition.  They know no proletariat, all are of royal descent - princes and princesses.  Take, for example, the unrivalled brothers and sisters “Ochre” in their modest yet majestic beauty.  The youngest of these, natural “ochre”, is delicate, warm, very adaptable, and is able to make every neighbouring colour its friend.  Sister “Gold-Ochre” by contrast is very choosy, has difficulty finding friends, and is domineering.  Colours are children of the sun and need light to reveal themselves.  In the darkness they drowse and seem to have no colour at all.  Colour powder is made up of tiny prisms of crystal.  These crystals are a colour’s real ‘power’.   They break the sun’s rays and disperse its light into its spectral colours, and what they don’t need for their own life they simply discard and beam it into our eyes.  What we see is just the residue.  Plants do the same thing.  With their chlorophyll capsules they seek out the warm red parts of the sun’s rays and throw off the cold yellow and blue, and again we are offered only what is left: green.  Not until the plant dies and the chlorophyll crystals have been destroyed do we see the actual colour of the plant, the red-yellow of autumn foliage. 

For the painting of icons mainly mineral colours are used.  These are earth colours, clay and stone, which in their natural state are dyed with metallic oxides.  These natural colours are first of all cleaned, then ground, washed, dried and filtered and, if necessary, burned.  The resultant wonderful colour material can then be applied to a surface. 
God is light, love is light, joy is light - that is why the icons shine.  However, the early icons in the time of the apostles didn’t shine at all.  They were painted in the wax colours that were customary in those times (encaustics).  Their colour was poor and lackluster.  Attempts to create icons using mosaic stones also failed to produce the desired effect.  And so, the icon painters deliberated on the problem and finally came to the conclusion: God is simple, love is simple, joy is simple, and so the icon should be simple too.  What is important is not complicated colour concoctions or refined painting techniques, but love for God's creation and joyfulness over God's great mercy.  So the wax, the mosaic stones and the other temperari (bonding agents) were left to the artists.  Iconographers instead mixed their colour crystals in holy water and balanced them with just a hint of mucus.  They could then be applied to a snow-white background in brilliant layers, so that each single grain of colour would be lit up from all sides.  The icon then shone like a precious stone and was treated as such.

Painting in layers allows a visual mixing of colours so that red, for instance, covered with green, still allows the first colour to shine clearly through the second, with the white background shining through both of them.  The finished icon is then sealed with a layer of protective oil.  Icons are beautiful and radiate love.  Icons are love and radiate beauty, the spiritual beauty of the holy person portrayed (image of the archetype).


The Church and the Icon

 Without the living church there can be no living icons! Without icons, we would only have sparse churches!  The icon comes to us from the light of love and the joy of the invisible transfigured world, from Jesus Christ himself, for our salvation: the face ‘not created by man’, stolen by plundering Crusaders in 1204.  One can only comprehend the Church’s purpose and what it represents through one’s education and intellect.  Those things are best understood that can be touched, such as church organizations, congregations or groups of like-minded believers made "understandable" to pious people by means of power and law of desk theorists.  But without God's mercy all organizations and associations are not churches at all, but feeding-ground for "Christian" sects restricted to acts of piety.  The Church of Jesus Christ is an all-embracing Mystery, a solemn acknowledgement of the presence of the Trinity.  The real Church and the miracle-working Icon are alive where the believer feels exceeding joy over his deliverance from the senselessness of death through God’s son, Jesus Christ!  Christians who have been made holy through God’s spirit do not die after fulfillment of their mission.  Only their physical, not their spiritual form changes.  The Church, therefore, is not an authority.  Rather, it is the triumph of joy without self-important theologies and severely formulated dogmas.  In its service to the Church, the noble icon participates in God’s saving presence.  Orthodox Christians solemnly place their icons, decorated with small lights or candles to symbolize radiant love, in every east-facing corner of their home, so as not to miss their healing effect.  The icon is not revered.  It is only a carrier of the heavenly part of the worldly Church.  The grateful believer bows his head before the icon!   The represented saint or holy personage is greeted lovingly, and is invited to share in the communal prayer on the liturgical festive day where there is neither pain nor sadness.  


The Icon is not simply “tradition”

 Christianity is a gift from God.  It is the new order of life founded by Jesus Christ.  Innate inclination is drawn from the Old Covenant and is the creed by which some still live to this day.  Tradition was incorporated into Christianity from this inclination and may still be regarded as ‘pre-programmed behaviour’, a game of repetition, which church officials in particular like to play.   

The Christian Church is a living organism, shaped by customs, tradition, rituals, and “Zeitgeist” or spirit of the time.  Christianity on the other hand is formed by mysteries, gospel, liturgy, love, God’s compassion and - the icon.  These things are not simply what is known as ‘tradition’!  From the beginning, the Church has drawn meaning, fortitude and compassion from holy Christian belief alone, the experiencing of life with God and without God.

Unfortunately, most theologians, thirsty for knowledge, overlooked the actual life of the Church.  Ideologically, Christian belief was often misunderstood.  Often it was adapted to suit the whimsy of political leaders, was forgotten or even denied.  However, belief has become the favourite catchword of Church leaders, who have invented innumerable religious doctrines they hold to be the truth and which they preach accordingly.  What happens if these beliefs are questioned or adapted after the maxim “the end justifies the means!?  If, today, one wishes to select a religious sect from the colourful collection of “churches” within our “multi-cultural society”, one has only to look at their credo.  Almost every “church” has its own credo and tradition, and only theirs are right.   The living Icon Centre is neither a museum nor an exhibition of antiquarian art objects.   The Icon Centre has taken on the “impossible” task of returning the ecumenical icon, by way of Christian belief, to a place where it was already ‘at home’ seven hundred years ago, in the Christian Church of the West, where churches and meditation centres are rampant (and are needed ever less). 


The liturgical Icon

Everything that happens to us through God’s love is because of His love and His mercy!
All that comes about as a result of our love of God is liturgical!
The Church of Jesus Christ is abidingly faithful to the two first ecumenical Councils, which freed the Trinity from false doctrines and heresy.  The Church Fathers, ministering to the undivided Church, have confirmed that God’s nature remains incomprehensible to man.  But Christians may love this God who is beyond all understanding and may live in Him and through Him.  Live God, not teach God!
From the beginning (at Pentecost) the holy Church has safeguarded the icon and given it to us as a gift. 
It was the holy apostle Jacob the Younger who composed the Liturgy.  After the end of the persecution of Christians, the patriarchs of the Church extended and completed it. 
The Liturgy is not a dictum for how public worship should be conducted.  Neither is it a collection of prayers and pious hymns.  Rather, it is, or should be, a conscious act on our part. Creative dynamics in closeness to God!  Likewise, the living Church is not an organized school of learning or a meeting of believers.  It is triumph and joy over the Eucharistic, liturgical unity of man with man’s Creator!  The Church is not the work of man, but is God’s creation for the world!  Because God became man, the Church is a holy place, where the resurrection of Christ is celebrated through the liturgy.  The icon too is liturgical, because it was born of God’s love for us and is revered in the Church through our love of God!
This explains why the Icon Centre is not seeking faith, but is attempting to actively and liturgically realize God’s presence through His works.  Some Christians attempt to instruct, impart, teach, explain and preach to us with considerable feeling and understanding.  But they are able to tell us very little about our love for God.  Our all-powerful intellect won’t allow it.  The Church is slowly dying of the humanism given rise to by the “Zeitgeist” or the spirit of the time under the guise of charity to those in need!  Because of the enormous number of new religions (esotericism, ethics) Christianity has become confused!  But without Christianity, our world will beyond doubt die from lack of meaning or purpose!


The homeless icon

The so-called “West” is neither a people, nor a nation, nor a continent.  It is a way of thinking fabricated by Germanic-Roman democracy and formed by the politics of the Vatican.  The West was always divided: - into shepherds and lambs – those in power, and those not or, nowadays, the cheats and the cheated.  Politically, religious rights were withheld then, diplomatically, converted into human rights.  With these, the foundation for the socio-human constitutional state was laid, where all are equal and have equal rights before the law and God!?  As a result, “Western” man has been cheated of the truth and of his dignity.  He has been made equal to all his “fellow-humans” and as “Spiessbürger” or bourgeois (an emancipated and uniformed citizen) he is freed from holiness.  The greatest right of the “freed citizen” is the right to “own”, which has led to expeditious invention and construction of citizens’ own churches.  The Christ Church has nothing in common with this sort of statesmanship.   Born of divine law and Christian responsibility and love, the Church lives within God’s mercy, in a supernatural condition.  In like manner, the Icon Centre, was created through the wonder of the Holy Spirit.  It is alive and through the icons is assigned the intrepid mission of returning  holy Christian tradition to the ‘virtuous, emancipated citizen’.


Icons and the Church

Whole libraries have been put together for the study of art, and yet more works will be written, for man’s relationship to art is evolving constantly.  What yesterday was considered art today becomes “kitsch”.  Today’s rubbish will, in time, become tomorrow’s art. 

Likewise, much has been written about icons, mostly by those same aesthetics who  examine art in a tender, critical and analytic manner.  From the beginning, almost one hundred years ago, the icons were irreversibly integrated into the expressive arts, with great warmth and appreciation.  Later, the arts faculty attached themselves to the theologians, who interpreted the icon metaphysically through piety and realistic mysticism.  Then there are the art enthusiasts and collectors, along with the skillful merchants who can recount many stories (with certifications!) about the icons.  Therefore a vast amount of specialized literature abounds.  It grows and flourishes in many languages with lavish reproductions of noble and miracle-working icons.  These volumes are highly expensive!  Even those citizens “freed” from spirituality by the Soviet state recognized that the icons are Christian.  According to the statistics of the Soviet Union, 21 million icons were stolen from citizens of Russia alone and sold to the “West” for hard currency through “Mesch-Torg”.  Noone mentions the stolen icons.  Now, any self-respecting snob can hang icons in his house to match the carpets or curtains!  Throughout the world, the icon has become a fashionable investment, an item of value, an amulet or an object to be used for meditation.  Countless art courses, seminaries, speeches, exhibitions and so forth take us into the labyrinth of the mysteries of the icon.  Word is being spread that the icon is a window or doorway, a bridge or a ladder to eternity, and that access to eternity may only be gained through these mediums.  Only the icon’s age is important.  The wood, the eggs, the gold and the colour must be old.  The authentic icon on offer must be mystical and dark – ancient!  

What most people, pious citizens and also many Christians, don’t and won’t realize is that the Icon Centre in Kautenbach, through God’s benevolence, has brought back holy, Christian tradition to the “West”.  That is all!


The Saint and his Icon

The atmosphere is a gas-filled mantle of air which envelops our world and makes possible the physical life of human beings, animals and plants.  Apart from that atmosphere, man, created in God’s image, needs a supernatural atmosphere, in order to survive.  Meteorologists and weather-forecasters deal with earth’s physical atmosphere.  It is destroyed only by the greedy and the power-hungry.  But who are the scientists responsible for the transfigured human atmosphere?  Are they the modern-day seekers of God, the dogmatic theologians or humane politicians, who wheel and deal and spoil everything with their intellect?  Spiritual life has nothing at all to do with science!  It is God’s service to man and man’s service to God.  Mission and reception, reception and mission form a closed circle, life without borders – Christianity.  Christianity is not a religion, neither is it a denomination!  Brought to life through God’s mercy, the one Church symbolizes energy, time, place, people and living icons!  Holy deeds – mysteries, received and celebrated by Christians within, and with, the Church.  Through the mystery of consecration too, the icon is taken into God’s service.  Holy days and times determine our life’s rhythm, made complete by the celebration of the liturgy in the Church, where the icons have a special role.  Holy sanctuaries – places, localities, where Church and icons may work without constraint of feeling.  For us, the Saints are the “chosen” ones, chosen through God’s mercy and love, free personages, endorsed (or not) by the Church. The holy icons stand in the service of the Church.  They present to us the dignified presence of the holy person represented and enrich our life’s spiritual atmosphere.  The essential part, the icon’s content, lives and works miracles.  Design and materials are merely pretty decoration and packaging – that which “narrow-minded” aesthetics see only. 

The living Icon Centre introduces us to divine joy brought to us through Christian tradition, so that we may behold, discover and experience God’s beauty and eternal benevolence – in Kautenbach and everywhere.


Two Churches

A story goes that an exotic diplomat was once caught dismantling electrical sockets at a Paris hotel.  When asked why, he explained “I want to take them home with me and install them there, then I shall have light everywhere!”  Does that sound logical??  Yet similar ideas are often come across at the Icon Centre in Kautenbach.  But it is not exotic diplomats expressing same, but Eurocrats, announcing with beaming faces that they have purchased some icons.  When asked whose icons they are, they invariably respond with a wide-eyed look “Mine, of course!  I paid for them!”  Now is that logical??

For many years, the Icon Centre attempted to explain and to document the fact that the icon is a Christian artifact.  Icons are not created for people.  They are always the property of the saint represented.  Icons are not objects of trade and are not utensils.  In the case of the exotic diplomat, if the removed electrical socket were to have any purpose, it would have to be connected to an electricity supply system.  In the same way, the icon has to be connected to Christian church service.  Otherwise, once separated from the Church, the icon is unable to survive and carry out its mission!  There would only be left an empty form and a piece of wood with gold, valuable woodworm and dearly loved patina!

The icon does not become a sort of apparatus when connected to the electrical current of Church service.   Out of a state of love and with the strength of love the icon radiates its miracle-working power!  Christians have ‘inherited’ two ‘churches’ for Church service that can only survive if they remain united.  One of these is the ‘church’ of daily life.  Within it, family life is honoured to which the icon brings holiness, and is cared for and treasured.  Without the intact, living family, this church would degenerate and become ambiguous.  Lovingly, icons are set up (not hung) in every room of a home.  The believer pays his respect to the icon by bowing before it and greeting it, thereby honouring the icon and the holy person represented.  The second ‘church’ is the richly decorated stately building where the mysteries are received, holy days are celebrated, and Christian life is shaped.  Under the life-giving cross the iconostasis stands in all churches:  it brings the presence of the heavenly church into the worldly church, makes it a place where God becomes one with the life of man.  In past ages, the liturgical iconostasis was generally accepted by all Christendom. Without the iconostasis Church service is a " forced emergency service ", becoming as it has today an “intellectual human service ".


The Holy Icon

Christianity proclaims the Mystery of the Church in the confession of faith or creed, as formulated by the Holy Fathers of the Church at the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (325 AD) and in Constantinople (381 AD).  Article 9 asserts: “I believe in one holy, all-embracing, apostolic Church”.  The terms “all-embracing” and “apostolic” have, through Jesus Christ, Son of God, to do with the founding and forming of HIS CHURCH:  Christ united the two parts of the Church with the New Covenant to provide a meeting place for divine nature and human nature, which no dogmatist would be able to destroy!  The drama of the Church is that theorists to this day are attempting to modernize the worldly Church with tangible thinking and by building their own logical churches (better than any true Christian would be able to), and then defending them by all means and “truths”.   But for spirited, thinking, and loving Christians (human and divine in unity) such "machinations" are impossible.  The scholars, or theocrats, have overlooked the fact that holiness or sanctuary is given by God out of compassion.  They have never understood that for Christians holiness is the whole meaning and purpose of Church life.  In the same way, the icon is created by the unity of heavenly and worldly Church and is always related spiritually to the saint represented.  It remains that saint’s property and part of the saint’s radius of activity!

Because man’s life is wretched without icons, the icon has regained importance today, has become relevant and sought after.  More and more people are recognizing that the sterile Church of today can yet be saved through the warmth and light of Holiness, through a return to what is natural and God-given.  The icon is alive and dynamic, and brings to our life the security of love, the light of joy, and respect for God’s creation, yes for oneself.  Even “officiating, die-hard bureaucrats” can’t deny that.


Writers of Icons

The first icon writers mentioned were the holy evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  At first, this may seem strange.  Why icons writers?  Is that what the holy evangelists actually were?  Surely they never wrote or painted any icons?!  But yes, they did write icons!  Word-icons!  Word-pictures!  The evangelists have given us a description, a word-picture, an outline, a drawing (graph) of the holy personage of Christ and his deeds of healing.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ…”  (John, 1,1, 14 and 17)
“…Philip saith unto him: “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us”.  Jesus saith unto him, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?  He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (John 14, 8 and 9)
“…Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature...”
(Colossians 1, 15)
So too we may also call the holy apostle Paul a writer of icons in the above sense.  The holy writers of the New Testament proclaim the incarnated, eternal logo of Jesus Christ, the icon of the invisible God.  All “Christian theology” is icon-ology, for it would not be possible without Christ, the incarnated logo, the icon of the invisible God.  Jesus Christ, as icon, is both image and archetype.  An image of the Father and archetype of man. 
“…But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Cor., 3, 18)
“…In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Cor., 4,4)
The image of God, man, tainted by man’s “Fall” from grace in the Garden of Eden, through the appearance and incarnation of the divine logo - Jesus Christ - may be made to shine once again. 
Man’s goal is to become a St. Christopher, a servant of Christ.  Those whom we call holy, above all the Mother of Christ, the eternal Virgin Mary, those whose Christlikeness brilliantly shines – they are truly living icons.  Veneration of the holy saints is, in its essence, always too a veneration of Jesus Christ himself.  This is why there can be no icon painters.  So what is the purpose of the icon writer?

We talk now about icon-writers, who write with brush and colour.  They too are evangelists (an evangelist being a preacher of the Gospel, as every Christian should be, proclaiming his faith) and their duties are those of a priest.  The writer of icons is a craftsman, one who crafts and not an “artist”.  The writing of icons is a craft, though not created by HIS holy hands.  His craft is meiotics; his task that of a midwife; he helps to bring a creature to life and must therefore be a true virtuoso and not simply an artist.  The writer of icons is bound to the “paradosis”, to the “nomos” of his tradition.  Yet within the “nomos” (origin, kind, order, manner, tune) he has a very wide margin.  His creativity is neither destroyed nor enslaved.  In fact, his creativity is inexhaustible, for God’s holy spirit does not assault human nature.  Rather, it transforms it, transfigures it (transfiguration – metamorphosis), changes it into a higher “morphe” (figure, form, appearance, image of beauty, grace, and  quality).


To think is human!

Happy are the ants: they build nations, create “democracies”, realize socialism and make teamwork function.  They never need to think.  Yet what about us!? 

The  I c o n  is Christian.  What are we – what exactly is Christianity?

Since the Church stopped serving God to practice and teach human service instead, we know only what the autocrats want us to know.  A ruling body has seized power over the Mystery of the Church, invented its own truths, and created a nation of subservient, “emancipated” citizens.  These incapacitated citizens are bound to devoutly and dutifully fulfill their religious duties.  But how is that to be done?  The worst thing the dogmatists have done is that they have officially declared:   G o d   g a v e   u s   l i f e!  This declaration renders the relationship between man and God barbaric; it destroys the Christian community created by God’s son.  T h e   N e w  C o v e n a n t   h a s   b e e n   d e b a s e d !

God didn’t give us life – he  l o a n e d  it to us for a short time, so that we should be able to consciously form our future.  The theologians withheld from us the fact that Christians don’t die, that God is life!

W i t h o u t   G o d   t h e r e   i s   n o   l i f e !

I f   w eality   l i v e,   t h e n  G o d   i s   p r e s e n t !

Jesus Christ established his Church for us so that we may receive immortality.  But what do we do?  We pursue politics and diplomacy and talk, talk, talk about “love” and brotherhood!  The virtuous icon was given us too so that we may receive God’s compassion. 


Dear Visitor!

A German proverb says. „Dialogue is silver, but silence is gold“.  However, silence can also be a crime!  No one tells us that the rulers, dogmatists and officials thought up and contrived all known religions, denominations, churches, sects, doctrines, theologies, ideologies, and traditions and that they defend these by all means or adapt them as the need arises. 

Not only have intellectuals submerged themselves in the swamp of mysticism and the theological jungle, they have also stopped gullible people  from thinking for themselves and forced them to “voluntarily” select the “proper” doctrine.

So-called humanists have humanized God’s love and made out of him a judge, a policeman, a physician, a guardian, a mainspring, a scapegoat, a fairy-tale teller, or a superman.  And so the “dear old man” sits on his cloud, wearing a white beard and making sure that Peter the Apostle opens the right gate or prepares the right sort of weather.  If he makes bad weather, then we have more visitors at the Icon Centre than usual.  Protected from the elements, they seek entertainment or enjoy refreshments, coffee and cake.  We no longer, however,  provide these at the Icon Centre.   Doesn’t anyone understand that in Kautenbach it is not the icon that matters so much, but the icon’s Christianity?  Thinking..?  Not many understand that the icon originates from holy Christian tradition, and is not fed by feelings, but by truth, wisdom, liberty and love. 

What do we know about Christianity?  After all, we claim to know everything - and we are so right, are we not!   We are human, religious, tolerant, cooperative, kind, sweet and pleasant, and that’s very comfortable and practical, isn’t it?