> When a person (christian or non) looks at an Icon, lets say the Pantokrator, what kind of emotions/feelings should they be experiencing?
Sometimes when I venerate an icon I'm aware of a sense of awe and
respect for what the saint accomplished or willingly endured for Christ.
I'm aware that compared to the Baptist or St Seraphim or St Nectarios I
definitely don't measure up much in terms of holiness or endurance of
suffering. That's a healthy reality-check when I start to think I've got
my act together. And when I venerate an icon of Christ, sometimes I'm
aware of reverence, and thankfulness that He accepts me in spite of my
sins. That makes me want to please Him and share His love.
But a lot of the time, when I venerate an icon I don't feel anything at
all. And that's not a problem. When a man comes home from work and
kisses his wife for the nine-hundredth day in a row, he may or may not
feel a wave of devotion and affection for her. But hopefully he doesn't
wait for a particular feeling before kissing his wife.
Venerating icons affects the way we think, act, and relate to one
another. Get in the habit of bowing down in humility to God and His
saints, and it feels a little more natural to submit to one another, ask
forgiveness, and treat people with respect, kindness, and forbearance.
Whether it feels any particular way or not, bowing down our bodies
teaches us to bow our stiff necks outside of worship too. Good habit to
This morning during the Liturgy I saw my friend's son - barely two years
old, not really talking yet - walk up to the Holy Doors, make a sort of
sketchy cross, and bow down in a prostration. Nobody else was doing that
at the time (I think it was during the antiphons at the beginning) but
he felt like it. That tells me he's seen his pious mother and father
doing that at home :-) It also means that, God willing, as he grows up
maybe he'll be a person who knows how to say "Not my will but yours",
submit gracefully, and be humble from his heart.