Icons are an integral part of the Orthodox Church. One will find icons throughout an Orthodox Christian Church, and even in the homes of Orthodox Christians. As we honor an icon, we are also honoring that which the icon represents. For example, in honoring an icon of the Mother of God, the Theotokos, we are actually honoring the Theotokos herself. Icons are also especially important in helping to create a sense of reverence and respect, especially in our informal culture.
Icons are pictures of Christ, His Mother, and the saints, which are hung or painted directly onto the walls of our churches and monasteries. They are often called “windows into Heaven.” How often do we think about them more deeply, though? Icons are one of those things that just make our faith more “real” (by real, of course, I mean tangible), and yet isn’t it remarkable that that which is “down-to-earth” succeeds in becoming a “window into Heaven”?
The icons remind us that there is something more, something other-worldly, something calling us up to greater heights. The time for informality ceases when we stand in the presence of Christ and His saints. The excitement, the joking, the laughing ceases and we take on a feeling of profound awe. Icons help set the stage for proper worship, and help us adjust to the new setting.