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Τίτλος:Γιὰ τὶς εἰκόνες
Συγγραφέας: Anthony Bloom (Metropolitan of Sourozh (1914- 2003))
Κατηγορία: Ἐκκλησιαστικό Ἦθος
Θέμα: Ἐμπειρία Θεοῦ, Ψυχή, Ἀγάπη πρός Θεόν, Εἰκόνα, Μυστήριο, Βίωμα
Πηγή/Έκδοση:www.mitras.ru
Χρ.Έκδοσης:1984
Ἐννόημα
! An icon is an image, but an image which is meant to be a statement of faith. It is a statement of faith in line and colour as definite, as completely rooted in the faith and experience of the Orthodox Church as any written statement and in that respect icons must correspond to the experience of the total community, and the artist who paints them is only a hand, only one who puts into line and colour what is the faith and the knowledge of the Christian body in the same way in which a theologian is the expression of his Church, and the Church has a right to judge him
 
! It is in Incarnation, through the historical fact that God became man, that God acquired a human face and that it became possible by representing Christ, the incarnate God to represent indirectly God Himself.
 
! What we try to represent or to convey through the icon is something about their inner self.
 
! It is not an attempt at having a snapshot in colour but of conveying a vision of what a person is.
 
! Whether it is in words, in theological statements, in doctrinal statements, in the creeds, in the prayers and the hymns of the Churches, no attempt is ever made in the Orthodox Church at expressing, at giving a cogent, a complete image of what God is.
 
! The attitude of the bird-watcher is this intense alertness that combines a total liveliness with a total stillness. This is what one could call the attitude of a believer has with regard to the mystery of God and also with regard to any statement, any expression that conveys God or things divine to us.
 
! Now that we have said all these words which are written in the book, which I can’t read yet but which you rehearse to me very evening, can’t I stay before God and tell Him that I am sorry for one thing or another, that I love Him, that I am happy and then say “Good night” and send a kiss to the icon which is too high for me to kiss...
 
! Confronted with an icon, we receive a message and this message is always exactly as a passage of the Gospel is or a prayer written by a saint is, is a challenge for us – how do you respond to what you see, what do you do? Who are you in relation to this event, to this person, to this face, to this particular experience of the Church of God, of the Mother of God, of the saints of God, of the martyrs, of the Apostles and so forth. And this is the beginning of an act of prayer.
 
! We give them a kiss, we are less shy and we do it publicly, but we do it because they are the only way in which we can kiss the person who is absent in a way, who is present in spirit, yes, whose image is there being like a window, like a link, like a connection with this person.
 
! I was born in a very-very poor family in a very poor village of Russia, my parents were not in a position to keep me because they were too poor to feed me, so they gave away at the age of seven to a neighbouring monastery where they fed me, they gave me education, they taught me to read and to sing, and I never left the monastery until the revolution. And I have been reading these words and singing these words day in, day out, day in, day out for all my life. And now, you know what happens? When I see words, it is as though a hand was touching a string in my soul, and my soul begins to sing as though I was a harp, which is being touched by a hand. I don’t cling to the word. You still need it, but for me seeing it or seeing the notes is enough. I begin to sing with all my being
 
Γιὰ τὶς εἰκόνες
Anthony Bloom (Metropolitan of Sourozh (1914- 2003))
 




Μιὰ ἁγιογραφία εἶναι μιὰ εἰκόνα, ἀλλὰ μιὰ εἰκόνα ποὺ προορίζεται νὰ εἶναι μιὰ ὁμολογία πίστεως. Εἶναι ὁμολογία πίστεως καμωμένη μὲ χρῶμα καὶ γραμμὲς καὶ τόσο ξεκάθαρη, ἐπειδὴ ἔχει τὶς ρίζες της στὴν πίστη καὶ τὴν πείρα τῆς Ὀρθόδοξης Ἐκκλησίας, ὅπως εἶναι κάθε γραπτὴ μαρτυρία, καὶ στὸ πλαίσιο αὐτὸ οἱ εἰκόνες πρέπει νὰ συνδέονται μὲ τὴν ἐμπειρία ὁλόκληρης τῆς κοινότητας. Γι αὐτὸ καὶ ὁ καλλιτέχνης ποὺ τὶς ζωγραφίζει εἶναι μοναχὰ ἕνα χέρι, εἶναι ἐκεῖνος ποὺ ἀποτυπώνει μὲ γραμμὲς καὶ χρῶμα, αὐτὸ ποὺ εἶναι ἡ πίστη καὶ ἡ γνώση τοῦ σώματος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ὅπως ἕνας θεολόγος ἐκφράζει τὴν Ἐκκλησία του, καὶ ἔχει τὸ δικαίωμα ἐκείνη νὰ τὸν κρίνει. Ἔτσι ἐξηγεῖται γιατί ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς κανόνες ποὺ δίνεται στοὺς ἁγιογράφους, ὅταν μαθαίνουν τὸ ἐπάγγελμα τους, εἶναι ὅτι δὲν θὰ πρέπει ν’ ἀντιγράφουν πιστὰ μιὰ παλιὰ εἰκόνα, οὔτε νὰ τὴν δημιουργοῦν ἀπὸ μόνοι τους, ἐπειδὴ δὲν μπορεῖ κάποιος νὰ τὴν ταυτίσει μὲ τὴν πνευματικὴ ἐμπειρία ὅπως αὐτὴ ἐκφράζεται ἀπὸ ἕνα ἄλλο πρόσωπο, καὶ ἀπὸ τὴν ἄλλη, δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ ἀνακαλύψει μιὰν πνευματικὴ ἐμπειρία καὶ νὰ τὴν παρουσιάσει σὰν πίστη τῆς Ἐκκλησίας.

Λοιπὸν, μιὰ εἰκόνα εἶναι ἀρχικὰ διακήρυξη πίστης, μὲ τὴ ἔννοια ὅτι μιὰ εἰκόνα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, μιὰ εἰκόνα τῆς Μητέρας τοῦ Θεοῦ ἤ τῶν ἁγίων δημιουργήθηκε ὰπὸ τὴν στιγμὴ τῆς Θείας Ἐνσάρκωσης, ἐπειδὴ ὅλες ἔχουν σχέση μὲ αὐτήν καὶ ὅ,τι αύτὴ συνεπάγεται. Ἡ Παλαιά Διαθήκη μᾶς δίδαξε ὅτι τὸν Θεὸ δὲν μποροῦμε νὰ Τὸν ἀπεικονίσουμε, ἐπειδή ὁ Θεός τῆς Παλαιᾶς Διαθήκης ἦταν ὁ Μόνος Ἅγιος τοῦ Ἱσραήλ, ἦταν μιὰ πνευματικὴ οὐσία ποὺ ἀποκάλυψε τον ἑαυτό Του, ἀλλά ποτὲ δὲν ἦταν ὁρατὰ παρών. Θυμᾶστε τὴν ἱστορία τοῦ Μωϋσῆ στό Σινᾶ, ὅταν ζήτησε ἀπὸ τὸν Θεό νὰ τοῦ ἐπιτρέψει νὰ Τόν δεῖ καὶ ὁ Κύριος ἀπάντησε: « Κανένας ἄνθρωπος δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ δεῖ τὸ πρόσωπο Μου καὶ νὰ ζήσει». Καὶ ἐπέτρεψε στὸν Μωϋσῆ νὰ Τὸν δεῖ καθὼς ἀπομακρυνόταν, ἀλλὰ ποτὲ νὰ Τὸν συναντήσει κατὰ πρόσωπο. Μὲ τὴν Ἐνσάρκωση, μέσα ἀπὸ αὐτὸ τὸ ἱστορικὸ γεγονὸς ὁ Θεὸς ἔγινε ἄνθρωπος, πῆρε ἀνθρώπινο πρόσωπο καὶ μὲ τὴν ἀπεικόνιση τοῦ Χριστοῦ, τὸν σαρκωμένο Θεὸ, κατέστη δυνατὸ νὰ ἀπεικονίσουμε ἔμμεσα τὸν ἴδιο τὸν Θεό.

Ἔτσι λοιπὸν, ὑπάρχει κάτι ποὺ εἶναι ἀπόλυτα ξεκάθαρο σὲ ὅλους μας∙ ὅτι κανένας δὲν γνωρίζει πῶς ἦταν ὁ Χριστός. Ἔτσι μιὰ ἁγιογραφία δὲν σημαίνει ὅτι εἶναι μιὰ προσωπογραφία ἀλλὰ φορέας μιᾶς ἐμπειρίας καὶ αὐτὸ εἶναι διαφορετικό. Ἴσως θὰ ἔπρεπε νὰ εἶχα χρησιμοποιήσει τὴ λέξη στιγμιότυπο παρὰ τὴ λέξη προσωπογραφία∙ κάθε ἀπόπειρα νὰ πεῖ κάποιος ὅτι «ὁ Χριστὸς ἦταν ἔτσι» ἀποτελεῖ φαντασία. Δὲν ἔχουμε κάτι ποὺ νὰ μοιάζει στὸν Χριστό, ἀλλὰ ὅ,τι γνωρίζουμε εἶναι ἀπὸ τὴν ἐμπειρία τῆς Ἐκκλησίας καὶ τῶν Ἁγίων, τὸ Ποιὸς ἦταν, μπορεῖ νὰ ἐκφραστεῖ μὲ γραμμὲς καὶ χρῶμα. Πολλὲς εἰκόνες δὲν προσβλέπουν στὴν ὀμορφιά, στὴν κομψότητα, δὲν προσπαθοῦμε ν’ ἀπεικονίσουμε τὸν Χριστὸ στὴν Ὀρθόδοξη παράδοση σὰν τὸν πιὸ ὄμορφο, ἀρρενωπό ἄνδρα ποὺ μπορεῖ κάποιος νὰ φανταστεῖ. Δὲν προσπαθοῦμε ν’ ἀπεικονίσουμε τὴν Θεοτόκο σὰν τὴν πιὸ κομψὴ καὶ γοητευτικὴ νεαρὴ γυναίκα, αὐτὸ ποὺ προσπαθοῦμε νὰ μεταφέρουμε μέσα ἀπὸ μιὰν ἁγιογραφία εἶναι σχετικὸ μὲ τὸν ἐσωτερικὸ τους ἑαυτό.

Καὶ αὐτὸ ἐξηγεῖ γιατὶ κάποια χαρακτηριστικὰ σὲ μιὰν εἰκόνα ὑπογραμμίζονται δυσανάλογα, ἐνῶ ἄλλα ἁπλὰ ἀφήνονται νὰ ἐννοηθοῦν. Ἄν κοιτάξετε μιὰ εἰκόνα, μιὰ καλὴ εἰκόνα,ὄχι ἐκεῖνες ποὺ συναντᾶτε συνήθως σὲ Ρωσικὲς ἤ Ἑλληνικὲς ἐκκλησίες, ἀλλὰ εἰκόνες ζωγραφισμένες ἀπὸ σπουδαίους ἁγιογράφους τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας, θὰ ἀνακαλύψετε ὅτι ὁρισμένα πράγματα ξεχωρίζουν. Τὸ μέτωπο, τὰ μάτια μεταφέρουν ἕνα μήνυμα, ἐνῶ τὰ μάγουλα ἤ τὸ στόμα παρουσιάζονται σὰν κοινὰ χαρακτηριστικά. Ὁ στόχος μιᾶς εἰκόνας δὲν εἶναι νὰ σᾶς παρουσιάσει ἕνα ὁμοίωμα τοῦ προσώπου, ἀλλὰ μιὰν ὁμοιότητα στὸ μήνυμα ποὺ μεταφέρει, νὰ σᾶς παρουσιάσει ἕνα πρόσωπο ποὺ σᾶς μιλᾶ μὲ τὸν ἴδιο τρόπο ποὺ ἕνα πορτραῖτο εἶναι διαφορετικὸ ἀπὸ μία φωτογραφία. Μιὰ φωτογραφία εἶναι μιὰ ἱκανοποιητικὴ εἰκόνα τοῦ προσώπου ποὺ ἔχει φωτογραφηθεῖ μιὰ δεδομένη στιγμή. Εἶναι ἀκριβῶς ὅπως ἦταν τὸ πρόσωπο τὴ συγκεκριμένη στιγμή, ἀλλὰ παραμερίζει πολὺ συχνὰ τὸ μεγαλύτερο μέρος τῆς προσωπικότηας αὐτοῦ τοῦ συγκεκριμένου προσώπου, ἐνῶ ἕνα καλὸ πορτραῖτο ζωγραφίζεται στὴ διάρκεια πολλῶν συναντήσεων, ποὺ ἐπιτρέπουν στὸν καλλιτέχνη νὰ κοιτάξει βαθύτερα τὸ πρόσωπο, νὰ ξεχωρίσει χαρακτηριστικὰ τὰ ὁποῖα εἶναι ρευστά, ἀλλάζουν, κινοῦνται, ἀλλὰ τὸ καθένα ἀπὸ αὐτὰ ἐκφράζει κάτι ἀπὸ τὴν προσωπικότητα του. Ἔτσι, τὸ πορτραῖτο εἶναι κάτι πολὺ πιὸ σύνθετο, πλούσιο καὶ ἀνάλογο τῆς προσωπικότητας ἀπ’ ὅ,τι θὰ ἦταν μία στιγμιαία φωτογραφία, ἄν καὶ σὲ καμιὰ στιγμὴ αὐτὸ τὸ συγκεκριμένο πρόσωπο δὲν ἦταν ἀκριβῶς ὅπως ὁ ζωγράφος τὸ εἶχε παραστήσει στο πορτραῖτο. Δὲν εἶναι μιὰ προσπάθεια νὰ ἔχουμε μία ἔγχρωμη φωτογραφία, ἀλλὰ νὰ ἀποδοθεῖ τὸ ὅραμα τοῦ τὶ εἶναι ἕνα πρόσωπο.

Τώρα καταλαβαίνουμε μετὰ ἀπ’ ὅσα εἰπώθηκαν, ὅτι χρησιμοποιοῦμε τὶς εἰκόνες μὲ εὐλάβεια καὶ ἕνας ἀριθμὸς ἀνθρώπων στὴ Δύση νομίζουν ὅτι οἱ εἰκόνες εἶναι γιὰ ἐμᾶς ὅ,τι ἦταν τὰ εἴδωλα γιὰ τὰ εἰδωλολατρικὰ ἔθνη σὲ παλαιότερες ἐποχές. Δὲν εἶναι εἴδωλα, ἐπειδὴ δὲν στοχεύουν ἤ ἀκόμα δὲν προσπαθοῦν νὰ δώσουν μιὰν ἐπαρκὴ εἰκόνα τοῦ προσώπου στὸ ὁποῖο ἀναφέρονται. Τὸ ἔχω ἤδη ἀναφέρει πολλὲς φορές, ἀλλὰ θὰ προσθέσω αὐτό. Στοὺς λόγους, στὶς θεολογικὲς ἤ στὶς δογματικὲς ὁμλογίες, στὰ δόγματα, στὶς προσευχὲς καὶ στοὺς ὕμνους τῶν Ἐκκλησιῶν, δὲν ἔχει γίνει ποτὲ καμία προσπάθεια στὴν Ὀρθόδοξη Ἐκκλησία νὰ ἐκφραστεῖ, ν’ἀποδοθεῖ αὐτὸ ποὺ εἶναι ὁ Θεός. Ἤδη τὸν τέταρτο αἰώνα, ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος ὁ Ναζιανζηνὸς ἔγραψε ὅτι ἐὰν προσπαθήσουμε νὰ συγκεντρώσουμε ἀπὸ τὴν Παλαιὰ Διαθήκη, τὴν Καινὴ Διαθήκη, τὴν ἐμπειρία τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, τὴ ζωὴ τῶν ἁγίων, ἀπὸ τοὺς λόγους καὶ τὰ γραπτά τους, ὅλα τὰ γνωρίσματα ποὺ μᾶς ἀποκαλύπτουν ποιὸς εἶναι ὁ Θεὸς καὶ νὰ προσπαθήσουμε νὰ οἰκοδομήσουμε μιὰ ὁλοκληρωμένη εἰκόνα τοῦ Θεοῦ, αὐτὸ ποὺ θὰ πετυχαίναμε, δὲν θὰ ἦταν μιὰ εἰκόνα τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ ἕνα εἴδωλο, ἐπειδὴ θὰ γινόταν μὲ βάση τὰ δικὰ μας μέτρα, τόσο ἀσήμαντο ὅσο ἐμεῖς, ἐπειδὴ θὰ ἦταν στὸ μέτρο ποὺ ἐμεῖς κατανοοῦμε τὰ πράγματα.

Ἄν θελήσουμε νὰ καταλάβουμε τὶ εἶναι μιὰ θεολογικὴ ὁμολογία- καὶ τοῦτο βρίσκει ἐφαρμογὴ ὄχι μόνο στὶς γραπτὲς μαρτυρίες, ἀλλὰ ἐπίσης στὶς εἰκόνες, ἡ πλησιέστερη προσέγγιση θὰ ἦταν ὅτι μιὰ θεολογική ὁμολογία ὅπως αὐτὴ ἐκφράζεται, μὲ λόγια, μὲ γραμμές, μὲ τὴ μουσικὴ ἤ σὲ μία ἀκολουθία ποὺ εἶναι ἡ Θεία Λειτουργία, μοιάζει πολύ μὲ τὸν οὐρανὸ τὴ νύχτα. Αὐτὸ ποὺ χαρακτηρίζει τὸν οὐρανὸ εἶναι ὅτι βλέπουμε πέρα ἀπὸ τὸ σκοτάδι, τὸ ἡμιδιαφανὲς σκοτάδι τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, βλέπουμε ἀστέρια σὲ σχηματισμούς. Τοῦτα τ’ ἀστέρια εἶναι στοιχεῖα φωτὸς καὶ αὐτοὺς τοὺς σχηματισμοὺς εἶναι εὔκολο νὰ τοὺς ἀναγνωρίσουμε, ἔτσι ποὺ κοιτάζοντας τὸν οὐρανό μποροῦμε νὰ βροῦμε τὸ δρόμο μας στὴ γῆ∙ ἀλλὰ αὐτὸ ποὺ εἶναι σημαντικὸ εἶναι ὅλα αὐτὰ τ’ ἀστέρια ποὺ χωρίζονται τὸ ἕνα ἀπὸ τὸ ἄλλο μὲ τεράστια κενά. Ἐὰν συγκεντρώνατε ὅλα τ’ ἀστέρια σ’ ἕνα μέρος, θὰ εἴχατε μπροστά σας μιὰ λαμπερὴ μάζα φωτιᾶς, ἀλλὰ κανένα δείκτη πρὸς ὁποιαδήποτε κατεύθυνση, θὰ εἴσασταν ἀδύναμοι νὰ βρεῖτε τὸ δρόμο σας, ὄχι μόνο στὸν οὐρανὸ ἀλλὰ καὶ στὴ γῆ. Αὐτὸ ποὺ εἶναι σημαντικὸ εἶναι ἡ ἀπεραντοσύνη ἀνάμεσα στὰ ἀστέρια καὶ τὸ ἴδιο συμβαίνει ἐπίσης μὲ τὶς ὁμολογίες ποὺ ἑρμηνεύονται θεολογικὰ μέ λέξεις, μὲ γραμμές, ἤ μὲ χρῶμα. Μᾶς δίνουν μιὰν ἁμυδρὴ εἰκόνα καὶ ἀφήνουν ἕνα τεράστιο κενὸ ὅπου μποροῦμε νὰ διεισδύσουμε μέσα ἀπὸ τὴν ἡσυχία, τὴν εὐλάβεια. Καὶ ἡ ἡσυχία καὶ ἡ λατρεία ποὺ τοὺς ἀποδίδονται, νομίζω, ὅτι μποροῦν νὰ ἐκφραστοῦν σωστὰ μὲ τὴ λέξη «μυστήριο».

Γνωρίζω ὅτι μυστήριο στὴν καθομιλουμένη εἶναι κάτι ποὺ εἶναι μυστικό, κρυμμένο καὶ θὰ πρέπει νὰ ἀποκαλυφθεῖ γιὰ νὰ δοῦμε πίσω ἀπ’ αὐτό. Ἡ ἑλληνικὴ λέξη «μυστήριο» προέρχεται ἀπὸ τὸ ρῆμα « μύω» ποὺ σημαίνει εἰσάγω σὲ κάτι˙ μένουμε ἀπόλυτα σιωπηλοὶ στὴν ἡσυχία ἐξαιτίας τῆς βαθιᾶς ἐντύπωσης ποὺ κάτι μᾶς προξενεῖ. Ἔχει δοθεῖ η Γαλλικὴ λέξη «muet», ποὺ σημαίνει ἄφωνος. Καθὼς βιώνουμε τὴν θεϊκὴ παρουσία ποὺ μᾶς συντρίβει, αὐτὸ ποὺ μποροῦμε νὰ κάνουμε εἶναι νὰ ὑποκλιθοῦμε σὲ στάση λατρευτική. Ἡσυχάζει ὁ νοῦς, τὰ συναισθήματα, γινόμαστε ἀπόλυτα δεκτικοὶ, ὄχι παθητικοὶ ἀλλὰ ἐνεργὰ δεκτικοί. Ἄν ἔπρεπε νὰ δώσω μιὰν εἰκόνα, θὰ σᾶς ἔλεγα ὅτι ἡ συμπεριφορά μας ἐκεῖνες τὶς στιγμὲς, εἶναι ὅμοια μ’ ἐκείνη τοῦ παρατηρητῆ πουλιῶν. Γνωρίζετε τί συμβαίνει στὸν παρατηρητὴ. Ξυπνᾶ νωρὶς τὸ πρωὶ, πρὶν ξυπνήσουν τὰ πουλιά, πηγαίνει στὸ δάσος, στὰ λειβάδια, ἡσυχάζει, καὶ τότε μ’ ἔνταση παραμένει σὲ ἐγρήγορση, τὴν ἴδια στιγμὴ ποὺ εἶναι ἐντελῶς ἀκίνητος, ἐπειδὴ ἄν κουνηθεῖ, ἄν δὲν γίνει μέρος τοῦ σκηνικοῦ, τὰ πουλιὰ θὰ ἐξαφανιστοῦν, πολὺ πρὶν τὰ παρατηρήσει. Κι ἔτσι, ἡ στάση τοῦ παρατηρητῆ εἶναι ἡ ἔντονη ἐγρήγορση ποὺ συνδυάζει μιὰν ὁλοκληρωτικὴ ζωντάνια μὲ μιὰν ἀκινησία. Αὐτό εἶναι ποὺ θὰ μποροῦσε κάποιος νὰ ὀνομάσει ὅτι εἶναι ἡ συμπεριφορὰ ἑνὸς πιστοῦ ὡς πρὸς τὸ μυστήριο τοῦ Θεοῦ κι ἐπίσης ὡς πρὸς κάθε ὁμολογία, κάθε ἔκφραση, ποὺ ἐκφράζει τὸν Θεὸ ἤ θεῖα πράγματα. Βλέπουμε μὲ ἡσυχία, μὲ σκοπὸ νὰ λάβουμε ἕνα μήνυμα καὶ ὅσο πιὸ βαθιὰ εἶναι ἡ ἡσυχία, ὅσο πιὸ τέλεια ἡ ἡσυχία, τόσο περισσότερο ὁλοκληρωμένα καὶ τέλεια μπορεῖ νὰ μᾶς προσεγγίσει τὸ μήνυμα.

Προφανῶς, ὅταν κοιτάζουμε μὰν εἰκόνα ἵσως ἀνακαλύπτουμε ὅτι ἔχει χαραστηριστικὰ ποὺ κατανοοῦμε ἤ ἀναλύουμε διανοητικά. Ὅταν ὑπάρχει ἕνα πρόσωπο, τὸ ἀποτέλεσμα ἵσως εἶναι πιὸ ἄμεσο, ἀλλὰ ὅταν πρόκειται γιὰ μιὰ σκηνή, ὅπως ἡ εἰκόνα τῶν Χριστουγέννων, μιὰ εἰκόνα τῆς εἰσόδου τοῦ Χριστοῦ στὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα, μιὰ εἰκόνα τῆς Σταύρωσης, ὑπάρχουν χαρακτηριστικὰ ποὺ μποροῦμε νὰ ἐξετάσουμε μὲ τὰ μάτια μας καὶ νὰ προσλάβουμε μὲ τὸν νοῦ, ἀλλὰ μόλις γίνει αὐτό, ἀντιμετωπίζουμε κάτι ποὺ ἀποτελεῖ ἀντικείμενο περισυλλογῆς. Καὶ θᾶ σᾶς δώσω ἕνα- δυὸ παραδείγματα.

Τὸ πρῶτο ποὺ ἐπιθυμῶ νὰ σᾶς παρουσιάσω εἶναι μιὰ εἰκόνα τῆς Μητέρας τοῦ Θεοῦ, ποὺ πιθανὸν κανένας ἀπὸ ἐσᾶς δὲν ἔχει δεῖ. Βρίσκεται στὴν νότια Ρωσία, ὑπάρχουν πολύ λίγα ἀντίγραφα, ἐπειδὴ δὲν θεωρεῖται ὅτι εἶναι μιὰ ἀπὸ τὶς σπουδαῖες, ὄμορφες καὶ κλασσικὲς εἰκόνες τοῦ Χριστιανισμοῦ. Αὐτὸ ποὺ παρουσιάζεται εἶναι – σὲ ἀντίθεση πρὸς ἕνα σκοτεινὸ φόντο, τὸ πρόσωπο μιᾶς, θὰ ἔλεγα, νέας χωρικῆς, τετράγωνο πρόσωπο μὲ χωρίστρα στὴ μέση, μὲ τὰ μαλλιὰ νὰ πέφτουν στοὺς ὥμους της, δίχως κάλυμα στὸ κεφάλι καὶ χωρὶς νὰ σᾶς κοιτάζει, ὅπως γίνεται στὶς περισσότερες εἰκόνες, ἀλλὰ νὰ κοιτάζει πρὸς τὴν ἀπεραντοσύνη, τὴν αἰωνιότητα, στὸ ἄπειρο, - πρέπει νὰ ἀνακαλύψετε πρὸς τὰ ποῦ.. Καὶ ἔπειτα τὸ δεύτερο πράγμα ποὺ παρατηρεῖτε, εἶναι ὅτι μπροστὰ ἀπὸ τὸ στῆθος της, ὑπάρχουν δυὸ χέρια ποὺ ἀγωνιοῦν, σφιγμένα ἀπὸ τὸν πόνο καὶ τὴν ὁδύνη. Καὶ ὅταν ἀναρωτιέστε, γιατὶ εἶναι αὐτὴ ἡ γυναῖκα ξέσκεπη, γιατί ἔχει χάσει τὸ πέπλο της, γιατί τὰ μαλλιά της πέφτουν ἔτσι γύρω της; Γιατί ὑπάρχει αὐτὸ τὸ σταθερὸ βλέμμα καὶ αὐτὰ τὰ χέρια ποὺ ἀγωνιοῦν; Κοιτάζετε τὴν εἰκόνα, καὶ βλέπετε σὲ μιὰ γωνία τῆς εἰκόνας ζωγραφισμένο μὲ πολὺ ἁπαλὸ κίτρινο χρῶμα τὸν Σταυρό, ἕνα Σταυρὸ δίχως σῶμα. Εἶναι ἡ Μητέρα τοῦ Θεοῦ ποὺ ἀντιμετωπίζει τὸν θάνατο τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὄχι τὸ γεγονὸς τοῦ θανάτου, ὄχι τὸ μυστήριο τῆς δικῆς της προσφορᾶς τοῦ Υἱοῦ Της στὸν Θεὸ καὶ στοὺς ἀνθρώπους, ἀλλὰ τὸ γεγονός ὅτι Ἐκεῖνος εἶναι νεκρὸς, τὴν φαινομενική ἧττα, τὸ τέλους κάθε ἐλπίδας της, τοῦ γαλήνιου πόνου τῆς καρδιᾶς της.

Αὐτὸ εἶναι ἕνα παράδειγμα, ἀλλὰ μόλις ἔχετε ἀναλύσει αὐτὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα, ἀφοῦ κοιτάξετε τὸ πρόσωπο καὶ ἀναρωτηθεῖτε, τὶ βλέπουν αὐτὰ τὰ μάτια καὶ τί ἔχουν δεῖ καὶ τὶ βλέπουν στὴν γωνιὰ τῆς εἰκόνας, γιὰ ποιὸ πράγμα μιλᾶνε καὶ καταλάβετε, τὸτε ἔρχεστε ἀντιμέτωποι μ’ αὐτὸ ποὺ ἡ Μητέρα ἀντιμετωπίζει,- μὲ τὴν Σταύρωση, μὲ τὴν ἀγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ ποὺ ἀποκαλύφθηκε ὡς ζωὴ καὶ θάνατος, μὲ τὴν ἀγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ, ποὺ μᾶς λέει, « Αὐτὸ πού, - ὁ καθένας σας χωριστά,ὄχι στὸ σύνολο, ἀλλὰ ὁ καθένας χωριστά – σημαίνει γιὰ μένα, μπορεῖ νὰ μετρηθεῖ μ’ ὁλάκερη τὴ ζωὴ καὶ τὸ θάνατο τοῦ Μονογενοῦς Υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ ποὺ ἔγινε ἄνθρωπος, «γεννηθεὶς ἐκ τῆς Παρθένου», ποὺ σταυρώθηκε στὸν Γολγοθᾶ μετὰ τὴν τραγικὴ ἑβδομάδα τοῦ πάθους. Ἔτσι τὴ δεδομένη στιγμὴ, ἡ εἰκόνα δὲν ἀποτελεῖ πλέον μιὰν ἱστορία, εἶναι μιὰ ἄμεση πρόκληση, ἡ ἀντιμετώπιση ἑνὸς γεγονότος στὸ ὁποῖο μποροῦμε ν’ ἀνταποκριθοῦμε μέσα ἀπὸ τὴν λατρεία, τὴν ἐσωτερικὴ μεταστροφὴ, ἀπὸ τὴν προσευχὴ μὲ τὴν πιὸ εὐρεία ἔννοια αὐτῆς τῆς λέξης. Δίχως νὰ ἐπαναλαμβάνουμε λόγια προσευχῆς, δίχως νὰ κάνουμε ὅ,τι ἔκανε ἕνα ἀγόρι ἀπὸ τὸ ἐκκλησίασμα μας, ποὺ ὅταν ἦταν ἑπτά χρονῶν, εἶπε στὴ μητέρα του: «Τώρα ποὺ τελειώσαμε τὴν προσευχή, μποροῦμε νὰ προσευχηθοῦμε λιγάκι;»- ποὺ σημαίνει : τώρα, ποὺ ἔχουμε πεῖ ὅλες αὐτὲς τὶς λέξεις ποὺ εἶναι γραμμένες στὸ βιβλίο, ποὺ δὲν μπορῶ ἀκόμα νὰ διαβάσω, ἀλλὰ ποὺ ἐπαναλαμβάνεις κάθε βράδυ, μπορῶ νὰ σταθῶ ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ νὰ τοῦ πῶ ὅτι λυπᾶμαι , ὅτι Τὸν ἀγαπῶ, ὅτι εἶμαι χαρούμενος καὶ μετὰ νὰ πῶ «Καληνύχτα» καὶ νὰ στείλω ἕνα φιλὶ στὴν εἰκόνα ποὺ εἶναι τόσο ψηλὰ γιὰ νὰ τὴν φιλήσω.

Τὸ ἄλλο παράδειγμα ποὺ θὰ ἤθελα νὰ σᾶς δώσω, εἶναι μιᾶς εἰκόνας τῆς Θείας Ἐνσάρκωσης, μιὰ Χριστουγεννιάτικη εἰκόνα- ἕνα βουνό, ἕνα σπήλαιο, σὲ μιὰ γωνία οἱ ἄγγελοι ψάλλουν στοὺς βοσκούς, ἀπὸ τὴν ἄλλη πλευρὰ οἱ τρεῖς βασιλιάδες ποὺ ταξιδεύουν, σὲ ἄλλη γωνία ὁ Ἰωσήφ ποὺ κάθεται καὶ δοκιμάζεται ἀπὸ τὸν Σατανᾶ ποὺ τοῦ ψιθυρίζει ὅτι κάποιο μεγάλο κακὸ ὑπάρχει στὴν ὅλη κατάσταση, καὶ ἔπειτα εἶναι ἡ Μητέρα τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τὸ Παιδί. Ἀλλὰ τούτη ἡ εἰκόνα ποὺ ἰδιαίτερα θυμᾶμαι, δὲν μᾶς δείχνει τὸ Παιδὶ στὴ φάτνη. Δὲν εἶναι ἡ κλασικὴ συναισθηματικὴ εἰκόνα ποὺ βλέπουμε τόσο συχνά. Ἀντὶ γιὰ τὴν φάτνη, ὑπάρχει ἕνα θυσιαστήριο ἀπὸ ρὸζ πέτρα καὶ τὸ Παιδὶ βρίσκεται σ’ αὐτό. Καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ εἰκόνα εἶναι μιὰ θεολογικὴ ὁμολογία, ὄχι μόνο γιὰ τὴν Ἐνσάρκωση ὡς Θεία πράξη μέσω τῆς ὁποίας ὁ Θεὸς ὑπάρχει στὸν κόσμο γιὰ νὰ μπορεῖ νὰ σωθεῖ ὁ κόσμος, μᾶς μιλάει γιὰ τὸ γεγονὸς ὅπου ὁ Υιὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ ἔγινε Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου γιὰ νὰ πεθάνει, ὅτι ἡ γέννηση Του ἦταν ἡ ἀρχὴ γιὰ νὰ εἰσέλθει σ’ ἕναν κόσμο πόνου, ἀπόρριψης καὶ θανάτου. Καὶ τὴ στιγμὴ ποὺ ἀνακαλύπτουμε ὅτι τὸ βουνὸ δὲν σημαίνει τίποτα, ὅτι οἱ ποιμένες καὶ οἱ βασιλιάδες, ὁ Ἰωσὴφ καὶ ἡ ψυχική του διάθεση εἶναι χαρακτηριστικὰ τοῦ παρελθόντος, ποὺ ἁπλὰ ἔφεραν σ’ ἐμᾶς τὸ μήνυμα, ἐρχόμαστε πρόσωπο μὲ πρόσωπο μὲ τὸ κεντρικὸ γεγονός – ὁ Θεὸς ἔχει γίνει ἄνθρωπος καὶ ἀφοῦ ἔγινε ἄνθρωπος δέχτηκε νὰ γίνει ἀδύναμος, εὐάλωτος καὶ νὰ εἰσέλθει στὸ βασίλειο τῶν παθῶν καὶ τοῦ θανάτου. Καὶ τότε, ἔχουμε νὰ κάνουμε μὲ ἕναν Θεὸ ποὺ μποροῦμε νὰ λατρέψουμε μὲ ἕναν νέο τρόπο, ὄχι ἕναν Θεὸ ποὺ λατρεύουμε στοὺς μεγάλους καθεδρικοὺς ναούς, ἐξαιτίας τῆς ἀξεπέραστης ἀγάπης ποὺ ἀντιπροσωπεύει, ὄχι τὸν Ἕνα Παντοδύναμο Θεό, ἀλλὰ τὸν Θεὸ ποὺ διάλεξε νὰ γίνει ἕνας ἀπὸ ἐμᾶς, ἀδύναμος, ἀπροστάτευτος, ἀβοήθητος, νὰ μᾶς προσφερθεῖ καὶ βλέπουμε τὶ ἔκανε τὸ ἀνθρώπινο γένος σὲ αὐτὸν τὸν Θεὸ ποὺ ἀνέλαβε ὅλη τὴν εὐθύνη τῆς πράξης Του πεθαίνοντας γιὰ χάρη μας.

Ἔτσι ἔρχομαι μ’ αὐτὸ, στὸ τελευταῖο σημεῖο τῆς ὁμιλίας μου, ποὺ προφανῶς εἶναι πολύ σύντομο. Ἀντικρίζοντας μιὰν εἰκόνα, λαμβάνουμε ἕνα μήνυμα καὶ τοῦτο τὸ μήνυμα εἶναι πάντοτε ἀκριβῶς ὅπως εἶναι ἕνα κείμενο τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου, ἤ μιὰ προσευχὴ γραμμένη ἀπὸ ἕναν ἅγιο, εἶναι γιὰ ἐμᾶς μιὰ πρόκληση – πῶς ἀπαντᾶτε σ’ ὅ,τι βλέπετε, τί κάνετε; Ποιοι εἶστε σὲ σχέση μὲ αὐτὸ τὸ γεγονός, τὸ πρόσωπο, τὸν ἄνθρωπο, σ’ αὐτὴ τὴν ἰδιαίτερη ἐμπειρία τῆς Ἐκκλησίας τοῦ Θεοῦ, τῆς Μητέρας τοῦ Θεοῦ, τῶν Ἁγίων Του, τῶν Μαρτύρων, τῶν Ἀποστόλων; Καὶ αὐτὸ εἶναι ἡ ἀρχὴ μιᾶς προσευχῆς στὴν πράξη. Φερόμαστε μὲ εὐλάβεια στὶς εἰκόνες, ὄχι ἐπειδὴ εἶναι ὄμορφες, ὄχι ἐπειδὴ φέρουν ἕνα οὐσιαστικὸ μήνυμα, ἀλλὰ ἐπειδή, κατὰ κάποιο τρόπο, ἔχουμε ἐπίγνωση τοῦ γεγονότος ὅτι συνδέονται μὲ τὸ πρόσωπο καὶ τὸ γεγονός ποὺ ἀπεικονίζουν.

Δὲν ἀντιμετωπίζετε μιὰν εἰκόνα σὰν ἕνα εἴδωλο, ἀλλὰ ἀκριβῶς μὲ τὸν τρόπο ποὺ θὰ ἀντιμετωπίζατε τὴν φωτογραφία κάποιου ποὺ ἀγαπᾶτε ἰδιαίτερα. Ἴσως εἶναι οἱ κεκοιμημένοι γονεῖς σας, ἴσως εἶναι οἱ γονεῖς σας ποὺ ζοῦν, ἴσως εἶναι τὸ ἀγόρι ἤ τὸ κορίτσι ποὺ ἀγαπᾶτε μὲ ὅλη σας τὴν καρδιά. Κοιτᾶτε αὐτὲς τὶς φωτογραφίες καὶ δὲν φαντάζεστε ὅτι εἶναι τὸ ἴδιο τὸ πρόσωπο, δὲν τὶς λατρεύετε ἀλλὰ ὑπάρχουν πράγματα ποὺ θὰ κάνατε καὶ πράγματα ποὺ δὲν θὰ κάνατε. Ἄν ἔχετε τὴν φωτογραφία κάποιου ζωντανοῦ ἤ κεκοιμημένου ποὺ ἀγαπᾶτε μὲ ὅλη την καρδιά σας, δὲν θὰ πάρετε ἁπλὰ τὸ φλυτζάνι σας νὰ τὸ τοποθετήσετε ἀπὸ πάνω, ἐπειδὴ εἶναι ὁ καλύτερος τρόπος νὰ προστατέψετε τὸ τραπέζι. Καὶ πιθανὸν θὰ εἴσαστε ἀρκετὰ ἀνόητοι, ἄν κάποια στιγμὴ ποὺ δὲν θὰ ὑπάρχει κανεὶς νὰ σᾶς κοιτάζει, πάρετε τὴν φωτογραφία καὶ τὴν φιλήσετε. Λοιπόν, αὐτὸ εἶναι ποὺ κάνουμε ἀκριβῶς μὲ τὶς εἰκόνες. Τὶς φιλᾶμε, εἴμαστε λιγότερο ντροπαλοὶ καὶ τὸ κάνουμε δημόσια, ἀλλὰ τὸ κάνουμε ἐπειδὴ εἶναι ὁ μοναδικὸς τρόπος νὰ φιλήσουμε τὸ πρόσωπο ποὺ κατὰ ἕναν τρόπο ἀπουσιάζει, ποὺ εἶναι παρὼν πνευματικά, ναί, ποὺ ἡ εἰκόνα του ὑπάρχει ὅπως ἕνα παράθυρο, ὅπως ἕνας δεσμὸς, μιὰ συγγένεια μὲ αὐτὸ τὸ πρόσωπο.

Καὶ ἡ προσευχή μας πρὸς τὶς εἰκόνες, δὲν εἶναι προσευχὴ στὸ ξύλο ἤ στὸ χρῶμα ἤ ἀκόμα πρὸς τὴν σκηνὴ ἤ τὸ πρόσωπο. Ὅλα γίνονται διάφανα σύμφωνα μὲ τὸν τρόπο ποὺ ἡ φωτογραφία εἶναι διάφανη σ’ ἐμᾶς, ἐπειδὴ εἶναι τὸ πρόσωπο ποὺ βλέπουμε, ποὺ ἀγαπᾶμε, ποὺ φερόμαστε μὲ τρυφερότητα καὶ σεβασμὸ ὅταν κρατᾶμε τὴν φωτογραφία ἑνὸς ἀγαπημένου προσώπου. Καὶ ἡ προσευχή μας πρὸς τὴν εἰκόνα εἶναι μιὰ προσευχὴ ὅπου ἐπικοινωνοῦμε μέσω αὐτῆς. Ἴσως εἶναι μιὰ βοήθεια γιὰ ἐμᾶς, διότι δεν εἶναι ὁ καθένας μας ἱκανὸς νὰ κλείσει τὰ μάτια, ν’ ἀποκοπεῖ ἀπὸ ὅ,τι τὸν περιβάλλει, νὰ νοιώσει ὅτι βρίσκεται μέσα στὴν παρουσία τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ ὅτι δὲν ὑπάρχει τίποτα ἀνάμεσα σ’ ἐκεῖνον καὶ στὸν Θεὸ, δὲν ὑπάρχει κάτι ποὺ νὰ χρειάζεται γιὰ νὰ τὸν συνδέσει μὲ τὸν Θεό. Τελικὰ, ἔχοντας κοιτάξει τὴν εἰκόνα, καὶ ἀφοῦ πράγματι δεχθοῦμε τὸ μήνυμα ποὺ φέρει, τὴν πρόκληση ποὺ μᾶς δίνεται, πρέπει νὰ εἴμαστε σὲ θέση νὰ κλείσουμε τὰ μάτια καὶ νὰ νοιώσουμε ὅτι βρισκόμαστε μέσα στὴν παρουσία τοῦ ἴδιου τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου ποὺ ἀπεικονίζονται στὴν εἰκόνα. Καὶ αὐτὸ εἶναι ποὺ μᾶς λέγει ὁ Ἅγιος Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος σὲ μία ἀπὸ τὶς ὁμιλίες του. Μᾶς λέει, «ἄν θέλετε νὰ προσευχηθεῖτε, σταθῆτε μπροστὰ στὶς εἰκόνες σας, μετὰ κλεῖστε τὰ μάτια καὶ προσευχηθεῖτε».

Προφανῶς, ποιό τὸ νόημα νὰ ἔχετε εἰκόνες, ἄν κλείνετε τὰ μάτια σας καὶ δὲν τὶς κοιτᾶτε; Αὐτὸ σημαίνει ὅτι ἔχετε ρίξει μιὰ ματιὰ καὶ αὐτή ἡ ματιὰ πρέπει νὰ σᾶς ἔχει ἀφυπνίσει,νὰ ἔχετε ρίξει μιὰ ματιὰ καὶ νὰ εἶστε ἀνοιχτοὶ σὲ κάθε μήνυμα καὶ πρόκληση καὶ τότε πρὲπει νὰ εἶστε ἐλεύθεροι ἀπὸ τὰ ἰδιαίτερα στοιχεῖα αὐτῆς τῆς εἰκόνας καὶ νὰ μπορεῖτε νὰ προσευχηθεῖτε, νὰ ψάλλετε στὸν Θεό.

Καὶ θὰ τελειώσω μ’ ἕνα παράδειγμα, μιὰ σκηνὴ ποὺ δὲν ἔχει νὰ κάνει μὲ μιὰν εἰκόνα, ἀλλὰ ποὺ θὰ σᾶς κάνει ξεκάθαρη πιθανὸν καλύτερα ἀπ’ ὅτι μπορῶ ἐγώ, τὴν ἰδέα νὰ ξεκινήσουμε μὲ ὅλο τὸ εἶναι μας νὰ ψάλλουμε καὶ νὰ προσευχόμαστε. Ἦμουν τότε δεκαεννέα χρονῶν καὶ διάβαζα μαζὶ μὲ ἕναν ἠλικιωμενο διάκονο σὲ μιὰ ἀπὸ τὶς μικρὲς ἐκκλησίες τοῦ Παρισιοῦ. Ἦταν πολύ μεγάλος σὲ ἠλικία, εἶχε χάσει μὲ τὰ χρόνια ὅλα του τὰ δόντια καὶ τὸ ἀποτέλεσμα ἦταν ὅτι διάβαζε καὶ ἔψελνε ὄχι τόσο καθαρὰ καὶ νὰ προσθέσω ὑποτιμητικά, διάβαζε καὶ ἔψελνε μὲ μιὰν ταχύτητα ποὺ μὲ ξεπερνοῦσε, τὰ μάτια μου δὲν μποροῦσαν νὰ παρακολουθήσουν τὶς γραμμές. Καὶ ὅταν τελειώσαμε τὴν λειτουργία, καθὼς ἤμουν τὸσο ὑπερήφανος, ὅσο μπορεῖ κάποιος νὰ εἶναι στὰ δεκαεννιά του χρόνια, τοῦ εἶπα: « Ἀδελφὲ Εὐθύμιε, μοῦ κλέψατε ὅλη τὴν ἀκολουθία διαβάζοντας και ψέλνοντας τόσο γρήγορα. Καὶ τὸ χειρότερο εἶναι ὅτι τὴν στερήσατε ἀπὸ τὸν ἑαυτό σας, εἶμαι βέβαιος, δὲν μπορέσατε νὰ καταλάβετε μιὰ λέξη ἀπὸ αὐτὰ ποὺ λέγατε». Καὶ τότε, ὁ ἠλικιωμένος ἄνδρας μὲ κοίταξε ( δὲν γνωρίζω γιατί, ἀλλὰ μὲ συμπάθησε) καὶ μοῦ εἶπε: «Ὦ λυπᾶμαι τόσο, ἀλλὰ ξέρεις, γεννήθηκα σὲ μιὰ πάμφτωχη οἰκογένεια, σ’ ἕνα πολὺ φτωχὸ χωριὸ τῆς Ρωσίας, οἱ γονεῖς μου δὲν ἦταν σὲ θέση νὰ μὲ κρατήσουν γιὰ νὰ μὲ θρέψουν, ἐπειδὴ ἦταν πάρα πολὺ φτωχοὶ, ἔτσι μὲ ἔδωσαν στὴν ἠλικία τῶν ἑφτὰ σ’ἕνα γειτονικὸ μοναστήρι ὅπου μὲ ἀνέθρεψαν, μὲ μόρφωσαν, μὲ δίδαξαν νὰ διαβάζω καὶ νὰ ψέλνω, καὶ ποτέ δὲν ἄφησα τὸ μοναστήρι μέχρι τὴν ἐπανάσταση. Καὶ διάβαζα αὐτὰ τὰ λόγια καὶ τὰ ἔψελνα κάθε μέρα ὅλη μου τὴ ζωή. Καὶ τώρα, ξέρεις τὶ συμβαίνει; Ὅταν βλέπω λέξεις σὲ κείμενα, εἶναι σὰν ἕνα χέρι νὰ ἄγγιξε μιὰ χορδὴ τῆς ψυχῆς μου, καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ μου ξεκινᾶ νὰ ψέλνει σὰν νὰ εἶμαι ἅρπα ποὺ τὴν ἀγγίζει ἕνα χέρι. Δὲν προσκολλιέμαι στὶς λέξεις. Ἐσὺ ἀκόμα χρειάζεσαι τὸ κείμενο, ἀλλὰ γιὰ μένα, εἴτε τὸ βλέπω, εἴτε βλέπω τὶς νότες, μοῦ εἶναι ἀρκετό. Ξεκινῶ νὰ ψέλνω μὲ ὅλο μου τὸ εἶναι».

Λοιπόν, αὐτὸ θὰ πρέπει νὰ γίνει ὅταν κοιτάζουμε μιὰ εἰκόνα καὶ δεχόμαστε τὴν ἐπίδραση ποὺ ἔχει πάνω μας, ἔτσι ποὺ ὅλη ἡ ὑπαρξή μας νὰ ξεκινᾶ νὰ ψέλνει, νὰ ψέλνει πρὸς τὸν Θεὸ σὲ ὁποιονδήποτε ἦχο. Μπορεῖ νὰ εἶναι μετάνοια, χαρὰ, εὐγνωμοσύνη, μεσιτεία, δὲν ἔχει σημασία, αὐτὸ ποὺ εἶναι σημαντικὸ εἶναι ὅτι θὰ πρέπει νὰ ψάλλουμε στὸν Θεὸ ὅπως μιὰ ἅρπα ὅταν τὴν ἀγγίζει ἕνα χέρι.



Ἀπόδοση στὴν νεοελληνική: www.agiazoni.gr

 

Πρωτότυπο κείμενο


An icon is an image, but an image which is meant to be a statement of faith. It is a statement of faith in line and colour as definite, as completely rooted in the faith and experience of the Orthodox Church as any written statement and in that respect icons must correspond to the experience of the total community, and the artist who paints them is only a hand, only one who puts into line and colour what is the faith and the knowledge of the Christian body in the same way in which a theologian is the expression of his Church, and the Church has a right to judge him. That explains why one of the rules given to icon-painters when they learn their trade is that they should neither copy slavishly an icon painted before them, nor invent an icon. Because one can not identify slavishly with the spiritual experience expressed by another person, on the other hand, one cannot invent a spiritual experience and present it as though it was the faith of the Church.

Now, an icon is a proclamation of faith primarily, in the sense that an icon of Christ, an icon of the Mother of God or of saints is possible only since the Incarnation because they all relate to the Incarnation and its consequences. The Old Testament taught us that God can not be represented because indeed, the God of the Old Testament was the Holy One of Israel, He was a spiritual Being that has revealed Himself but had never been visibly present face to face with anyone. You remember the story of Moses on Sinai when he asked God to allow him to see Him and the Lord answered, “No man can see My face and live.” And He allowed Moses to see Him moving away from him, as it were, from the back but never meet Him face to face. It is in Incarnation, through the historical fact that God became man, that God acquired a human face and that it became possible by representing Christ, the incarnate God to represent indirectly God Himself.

Now, there is one thing which is absolutely clear to all of us is that no-one knows what Christ looked like. So an icon is never meant to be a portrait, it is meant to convey an experience and this is different. The difference between, perhaps I should have used the word “snapshot” rather than “portrait”, any attempt at saying, “this is what Christ looked like” is fantasy. We have no likeness of Christ, but what we know is that from the experience of the Church and of the saints, Who He was and this “Who He was” can be expressed in line and in colour. And this is why so many icons do not aim at beauty, at comeliness, we do not try to represent Christ in the Orthodox tradition as the most beautiful, virile man whom we can imagine. We do not try to represent the Mother of God as the most comely and attractive young woman, what we try to represent or to convey through the icon is something about their inner self.

And this explains why certain features in an icon are underlined out of proportion while other features are just indicated. If you look at an icon, a good icon, not the kind of thing which you find commonly, say in Russian or in Greek churches, but icons painted by the great painters of Orthodoxy, you find that certain things are singled out — the brow, the eyes that convey a message, while the cheeks or the mouth are just indicated as common features. And the aim of an icon is not to present you with a likeness of the person but with the message, to present you with a face that speaks to you in the same way in which a portrait is different from a snapshot. A snapshot is a very adequate image of the person photographed at a given moment. It’s exactly what at that given moment the person was, but it leaves out very often most of the personality of this particular person, while a good portrait is painted in the course of many sittings that allow the artist to look deeply into the face of a person, to single out features, which are fluid, which change, which move but which, each of them, express something of the personality. And so that the portrait is something much more composite, much more rich and much more adequate to the total personality than a snapshot would be although at no moment was this particular face exactly as the painter has represented it on the portrait. It is not an attempt at having a snapshot in colour but of conveying a vision of what a person is.

Now, this being said, we treat icons with reverence, and number of people in the West think that to us icons are very much what idols were in older times for pagan nations. They aren’t. They are not idols because they do not purport or even attempt at giving an adequate picture of the person concerned. This I have already mentioned abundantly but I will add this. Whether it is in words, in theological statements, in doctrinal statements, in the creeds, in the prayers and the hymns of the Churches, no attempt is ever made in the Orthodox Church at expressing, at giving a cogent, a complete image of what God is. Already in the IV century St. Gregory of Nazianze wrote that if we attempted to collect from the Old Testament, from the New Testament, from the experience of the Church, from the personal lives of saints their sayings and their writings, all the features which reveal to us what and who God is and try to build out of them a completely coherent, a complete picture of God, what we would have achieved is not a picture of God, it would be an idol because it would be on our scale, it would be as small as we are indeed, smaller than we are because it could be contained in our vision, in our understanding.

If we want to understand what a theological statement is — and that applies not only to written statements but also to icons, I should think the nearest approximation would be to say that theological statement either in words or in lines, or colours, or indeed in music, or in the pageant which the liturgical service is, is very much like the sky at night. What is characteristic of the sky at night is that we see against the darkness of the sky, the translucent darkness of the sky, we see stars, which are combined in constellations. These stars are points of light and these constellations are recognisable, so that by looking at the sky at night we can find our way on earth; but what is important in the sky at night is all these stars are separate from one another by vast spaces. If you collected all the stars in one place, you would indeed have in front of you a glowing mass of fire but you would have no pointer to any direction, you would be unable to find your way not only in heaven but also on earth. What is important is the vastness between the stars and so are also the statements which are being made theologically, again in word or in line, in colour. They give us a glimpse and they leave a vast space into which we must penetrate in silence, in veneration. And the silence and veneration which is paid to them, I think, can be well expressed by the word “mystery”.

I know that in colloquial language “mystery” is something mysterious, something which is secrete, hidden and should be unveiled and seen through. The Greek word “mystery” comes from a verb “muen”, which means “to be spell-bound”, to be held absolutely mute in silence because of the deep impression something makes on us. It has given the French word “muet” which means “dumb”. Confronted with the overwhelming sense of the divine presence all we can do is to bow down in adoration. We are silenced in mind, in emotion, we become totally receptive and not passive but actively receptive. If I was to give an image, I would say our attitude at those moments is that of the bird-watcher. You know what happens to the bird-watcher. He gets up early in the morning before the birds are awake, goes into the wood, goes into the field, settles down and then he remains intensely alert at the same time as he is totally immobile because if he budges, he moves, if he doesn’t become part of the background, the birds will have disappeared long before he has noticed them. And so the attitude of the bird-watcher is this intense alertness that combines a total liveliness with a total stillness. This is what one could call the attitude of a believer has with regard to the mystery of God and also with regard to any statement, any expression that conveys God or things divine to us. We look at things in silence in order to receive a message and the deeper the silence, the more perfect the silence, the more completely and perfectly the message can reach us.

Obviously, when we look at an icon, we may discover that it has got features, which we apprehend or analyse intellectually. When it is a face, the impact may be more direct but when it is a scene, like an icon of Christmas, an icon of the entry of Christ into Jerusalem, an icon of the Crucifixion, there are features, which we can examine with our eyes and take in with our mind, but once it is done, we are confronted with something which is an object of contemplation. And I’ll give you an example or two.

The first example I wish to give you is an icon of the Mother of God which probably no-one of you has seen. It is in the South of Russia, there are very few reproductions because it is not considered as being one of the great and beautiful and classical icons of Orthodox Christendom. What it represents is – against a darkish background, the face of what I would call a peasant young Woman, square face with a parting in the middle, her hair falling on her shoulders, without a veil and looking straight not at you, as most icons do, but simply straight ahead into the vastness, into eternity, into infinity, — you must find out into what. And then the second thing you notice is that in front of Her chest there are two hands in agony clasped in pain and anguish. And when you ask yourself, why is this young Woman dishevelled, why has She lost her veil, why is Her hair falling like this? Why is this fixed gaze and this agonised hands? And you look at the icon, you see in a corner of this icon painted in very pale yellow colour the Cross, a Cross without a body. It is the Mother of God who is confronted with the death of Christ, not the dying, not the mystery of Her own offering of Her Son to God and to men but of His being dead, of the seeming defeat, of the end of all Her hopes, of the serene pain of Her heart.

This is one example, but once you have analysed these elements, looked at the face, asked yourself, what do these eyes see and seen it in the corner of the icon what do these hands speak about and understood, then you are confronted with the same thing, which confronts the Mother, – with the Crucifixion, with the love of God revealed as life and death, with the love of God, which says to us, “What you, — each of us singly, not the collectivity of mankind, each of us singly — means to Me can be measured by all the life and all the death of the Only-Begotten Son of God become man through the Incarnation born of the Virgin, crucified on Calvary after the tragic week of the passion.” So at that moment the icon is no longer a story, it is a direct challenge, a confrontation with an event to which we can respond by adoration, by conversion, by a change in us, by prayer in the vastest possible sense of this word. Not by repeating words of prayer, not by doing what a boy of our congregation, when he was seven, said to his mother, “Now that we have finished prayering, could we pray a little?” — which mean:, now that we have said all these words which are written in the book, which I can’t read yet but which you rehearse to me very evening, can’t I stay before God and tell Him that I am sorry for one thing or another, that I love Him, that I am happy and then say “Good night” and send a kiss to the icon which is too high for me to kiss...

The other example which I wanted to give is that of an icon of the Incarnation, a Christmas icon — a mountain, a cave, in one corner the Angels singing to the shepherds, on the other hand, the three kings travelling, in another corner Joseph sitting and being tempted by Satan who whispers to him that there is there something quite wrong in the whole situation, and then the Mother of God and the Child. But this icon, of which I am thinking in particular, does not show us the Child in the manger. It’s not the classical half emotional picture, which we see so often. Instead of the manger there is in pink stone an altar of sacrifice and the Child lying on it. And this icon is a theological statement not only about the Incarnation as the divine act that made God immanent in the world that the world may be saved, it speaks to us of the fact that the Son of God became Son of man in order to die, that His birth was the beginning of entering a world of suffering, of pain, of rejection and of death. And once we have discovered that the mountain matters nothing, that the shepherds and the kings, that Joseph and his tempter are features of the past that has simply brought the message to us, we are confronted with the central event – God has become man and by becoming man He has accepted to become helpless, vulnerable and enter into the realm of suffering and death. And then we are confronted with a God Whom we can worship in a new way, not a God Whom we worship in the great cathedrals because of the unsurpassed beauty He represents, not the All-Mighty one but the God Who has chosen to become one of us, frail, unprotected, helpless, given to us, and we see what mankind has done to this God, who had taken full responsibility for His creative act by dying of it and of its consequences.

So this leads me to the last point, which is obviously very short. Confronted with an icon, we receive a message and this message is always exactly as a passage of the Gospel is or a prayer written by a saint is, is a challenge for us – how do you respond to what you see, what do you do? Who are you in relation to this event, to this person, to this face, to this particular experience of the Church of God, of the Mother of God, of the saints of God, of the martyrs, of the Apostles and so forth. And this is the beginning of an act of prayer. Now, we treat icons with veneration not because they are beautiful and not even because they convey an essential message but because somehow we are aware of the fact that they are connected with the person represented on them and the event. I will give you one more of those flat analogies which are natural to me.

We don’t treat an icon as an idol but we treat it exactly in the way in which you would treat the photograph of someone whom you love dearly. It may be your departed parents, it may be your parents alive, it may be the girl or the boy whom you love with all your heart. You look at these photographs and you do not imagine that they are the person, you do not worship them but there are things which you would do and things which you would not do to them. If you have the photograph of someone whom you love with your whole heart alive or departed, you will not simply take your teacup and plant it on top of it because it is the best way of protecting the table. And you will be probably foolish enough at a moment when there is no-one who looks at you to take the photograph and give it a kiss. Well, it’s exactly what we do about icons. We give them a kiss, we are less shy and we do it publicly, but we do it because they are the only way in which we can kiss the person who is absent in a way, who is present in spirit, yes, whose image is there being like a window, like a link, like a connection with this person.

And our praying to icons is not praying to the wood or to the paint or even to the scene or the face represented. All these things become transparent in the way in which the photograph is transparent to us because it is the person whom we perceive, whom we see, whom we love, whom we treat with tenderness and reverence when we hold a photograph of a beloved person. And our praying to the icon is a praying that reaches through the icon. It may be a help to us because it is not everyone of us who is capable of shutting his eyes, abstracting himself or herself from all surrounding and feeling that he is or she is in the presence of God, and there is nothing between God and him, there is nothing that he needs to connect him with God. But ultimately we must come to the point when having looked at an icon, receive its message, received indeed its challenge, its call, we must be able to shut our eyes and be in the presence of God Himself and the saint who is represented in it. And this is what St. John Chrysostom says in one of his sermons. He says to us, “If you want to pray, take your stand in front of your icons, then shut your eyes and pray.”

Apparently, what’s the point of having icons if you shut your eyes and don’t look at them? The point is that you have taken one look and this look must have awoken you, you must have had one look and be alive to all the message and all the challenge that it has and now you must be free from the particular elements of this icon and be able to pray, to sing to God.

And I will end by an example, by an image, which is not properly of an icon but which convey to you probably better than I can this idea of our whole self beginning to sing and to respond. I was nineteen then. and I was reading together with an old deacon in one of the small churches in Paris. He was very old, he had lost all his teeth with age and the result was that when he read and sang, it was not as clear as one might have hoped for, and to add insult to injury, he read and sang with a velocity that defeated me, my eyes could not follow the lines. And when we finished the service, being as arrogant as one may be, some may be at nineteen, I said to him, “Fr. Evfimiy, you have robbed me of all the service with your reading and singing so fast. And what is worse, you have robbed yourself of it, I am sure, because I am sure, you couldn’t understand a word of what you were saying.” And so the old man looked at me (I don’t know why but he liked me) and he said to me, “O, I am so sorry, but you know, I was born in a very-very poor family in a very poor village of Russia, my parents were not in a position to keep me because they were too poor to feed me, so they gave away at the age of seven to a neighbouring monastery where they fed me, they gave me education, they taught me to read and to sing, and I never left the monastery until the revolution. And I have been reading these words and singing these words day in, day out, day in, day out for all my life. And now, you know what happens? When I see words, it is as though a hand was touching a string in my soul, and my soul begins to sing as though I was a harp, which is being touched by a hand. I don’t cling to the word. You still need it, but for me seeing it or seeing the notes is enough. I begin to sing with all my being.”

Well, this is what we should become when we can look at an icon and immediately receive the impact of it, so that our whole being begins to sing and sing and sing to God in whatever tune. It may be repentance, it may be joy, it may be gratitude, it may be intercession, it does not mean anything, what means something, which is essential is that we should sing to God as a harp sings under the hand that has touched it.



 
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Πῶς ἰσορροποῦμε;

(Ἁπλοποιημένη μορφὴ κειμένου τοῦ Ἁγίου Νικοδήμου τοῦ Ἁγιορείτου περὶ τῶν βασικῶν ἐντολῶν τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου. Ὁ καλύτερος καθρέφτης, ὁ καθρέφτης τῆς Ἀγάπης τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ὅταν ἔρχονται τὰ προβλήματα, τὰ ψυχικὰ καὶ τὰ κοινωνικὰ, ἐκεῖ ρίχνουμε τὴν ματιά μας γιὰ νὰ μπορέσουμε νὰ βροῦμε τὴν ἰσορροπία μας· τὶ μᾶς φταίει.)

Ἀπαντᾶ ὁ Ἅγιος Νικόδημος ὁ Ἁγιορείτης