Practical Uses of Icons

Holy icons serve a number of purposes. (1) They enhance the beauty of a church. (2) They instruct us in matters pertaining to the Christian faith. (3) They remind us of this faith. (4) They lift us up to the prototypes, which they symbolize, to a higher level of thought and feeling. (5) They arouse us to imitate the virtues of the holy personages depicted on them. (6) They help to transform us, to sanctify us. (7) They serve as a means of worship and veneration.142 Madeline L’Engle describes her experience: “…an icon, for me, is an open window to God.

142 (Cavarnos, 1992)

An icon is something I can look through and get a wider glimpse of God and God’s demands on us, El’s mortal children, than I would otherwise.” “…words are inadequate to describe the Maker’s love for me and I, the made, to describe my love of the Maker.”143 Other possible uses of icon and symbol in an evangelical context will be discussed in more detail later in this paper.

143 L’Engle, 1996, p. 14.