In the life of the sixth century saint, Mary of Egypt, we find a beautiful illustration of the proper, pious, and humble veneration of the Mother of God, depicted on a holy icon as well as the power of God, which worked through the Theotokos and through her icon:
“The Holy Spirit speaks to us concerning the miracle-workings of the saints during the period of their life on earth, that they bore witness to the power dwelling within them.” The Elder Cleopa of Romania continues:
In the January 1, 1848 letter of the great Russian author, Nicholas Gogol, to the poet Zhukovoski, we read:
Art reconciles us with life. Art is the introduction of order and harmony into the soul, not of trouble and disorder…If an artist does not accomplish the miracle of transforming the soul of the spectator into an attitude of love and forgiveness, then his art is only an ephemeral passion.
In the person in the Orthodox Tradition, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos writes:
In the Church man can go from the image to the likeness, he can really be fulfilled, achieve his deification by grace, that is to say, become by participation what God is in essence.
Men and women who have been united with Christ “…are living His life and transcending death and all that is human.” By God’s grace, they have, as he suggests in his writing “given us another dimension to life.”
In the Diary of a Russian Priest, Fr. Alexander of blessed memory, shortly before his repose wrote:
The Christian gift of healing is not something all-powerful, nor a victory over nature. Many righteous men suffered up to the very end of their lives from diseases, which remained uncured. The Apostle himself was sick while curing others. How can this be explained? By the fact that so long as we live in this body of death, we bear all its consequences – until the final restoration of all things.
“It is simply undeniable that, as a fact, there have been any number of miracles attesting the one, sublime, and saving miracle of Christ’s Ascension into heaven with the flesh in which He arose from the dead.”
With these words, Saint Augustine of Hippo reminded the faithful that within fourth century Christendom miracles were wrought, each and every miracle affirming the Lord’s Resurrection on the Third Day by which He ascended in glory to the right hand of the Father. Thanks be to our Good and Gracious God, He continues to work in Creation; from century to century He intervenes in the laws of nature as He sees fit and when He sees fit.
God ordained the honoring of the Sabbath, the months and festivals, not because He wanted these days to be honored by men as days, for that would be serving the creature more than the Creator (Rom. 1:25), implying that days are naturally worthy of honor and therefore of worship themselves. But through the ordinance to honor the days, He symbolically ordained the honoring of Himself. For He, Himself, is the Sabbath, the source of rest from the cares and labors of life. He is the Pascha, the Liberator of those held in the bitter servitude of sin; He is the Pentecost, the beginning and end of all.
In the second century, St. Clement of Alexandria taught the faithful, “Those who glory in their looks — not in their hearts — dress to please others.” His writings are replete with like sayings, which together attempt to communicate the utilitarian nature of clothing, the importance of modesty in attire, and the true splendor of the well-dressed soul.
What then is the simple outward “dress code” of Orthodox Christians? To begin, what is the purpose of clothing? Clement concluded:
Today you have appeared to the inhabited world, and your light, O Lord, has been signed upon us, who, with knowledge, sing your praise, “You have come, you have appeared, the unapproachable light.
Today the Virgin gives birth to him who is above all being, and the earth offers a cave to him whom no one can approach.
Angels with shepherds give glory, and magi journey with a star, for to us there has been born a little Child, God before the ages.