Saturday, July 25, 2015

Iconoclasm: it just doesn't stop

Over at National Review Nicholas Frankovich has written a thoughtful piece on the stripping of a church on Park Ave. in New York, beautified only five years ago. For me it is not a question of art or of taste, but simply the will of the donors. In mission territory or in the world of the Oriental Churches (maybe not 3rd World but certainly not 1st World either) if a beneficiary ignores the will of the donors, he is punished and if he is lucky gets by with repaying every last cent. As a very young man before priestly ordination, I learned of the hurt a priest can cause for tossing out two candle sticks and a chasuble, only to find out they were memorial gifts given at the funeral of an adolescent son and brother, who died in a tragic farm accident, not much prior to his arrival in that parrish. As priests we cannot so disrespect our parishioners, be their gift a true sacrifice cloaked in sorrow, as in the case of that farm family, or as with somebody-on-Park-Avenue's pocket change (if you will).

The other day, I took a guest from Canada around here in Kyiv and among the murals we saw up in the choir in the back of Saint Sophia was one of the great ecumenical council (Nicaea II - 8th Century) which resolved the question by condemning the heresy of iconoclasm. In the great fresco, the Emperor and the Empress are seated in the midst of the council fathers and all are holding sacred icons. Also part of the scene shows the Gospel book borne with the very same devotion.

It is hard to imagine less than a person possessed, who would dare to deface a restoration barely done, just because...

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