|Offering of the Holy Icons|
The "Offering or Elevation of Icons" is essentially a Stewardship practice in the Albanian Orthodox Churches. It occurs usually on the Sunday after Epiphany.
Following liturgy, the priest will mount the pulpit and after introductory remarks, symbolically offer the Hand (and/or Sanctification) Cross, Icons and sacred articles, one by one, for the faithful's patronage. It takes the form of bidding, somewhat like an auction. The parish secretary, who has a list, records the name of the winning donor for that year. The principal item is the priest's hand cross (because it was used for the Theophany Blessing of Water) and it is considered the most prized. In many parishes, the person who "won" the Cross is highly honored and is often expected to accompany the parish priest on his seasonal Blessing of Homes. Today, that honored duty is often shared by other parish officers or is eschewed altogether.
This is often a parish's principal and traditional means of public Stewardship. For those who cannot attend, the "icon list" and offering envelope is mailed to parishioner's homes. In some parishes, "Icon Offerings" through the mail form a significant part of the activity's income.
c.) During the weeks following the activity, a list of the icons and their donors is often posted on a bulletin board.
BACKGROUND: " A Blackmail Transformed"
Prepared by Father Arthur Liolin, Chancellor,
Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese
The Glorification of the Saints in the Orthodox Church
There are several categories of saints: prophets, evangelists, martyrs, ascetics, holy bishops and priests, and those who live a righteous life "in the world." What they all have in common is holiness of life. While the glorification of a saint may be initiated because of miracles, it is not an absolute necessity for canonization. What is required is a virtuous life of obvious holiness. And a saint’s writings and preaching must be "fully Orthodox," in agreement with the pure faith that we have received from Christ and the Apostles and taught by the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils.
The word canonization means that a Christian has been found worthy to have his name placed in the canon [list] of saints of the Church. This canon is read during the services of the Church. Every day in the calendar year is dedicated to a group of saints whose names are remembered by the people of God.
The people of God see God's image in His saints. For this reason our church buildings contain many Icons of saints in order to remind us that we are meant to see the image of God in ourselves and in each other. The living people of God gather together in temples in the presence of the ikons of men and women who have shown in an especially notable way what it means to live life fully in Christ.
Canonization does not make anybody a saint. Canonization recognizes that someone already was, in his own lifetime, a saint. Having recognized that the Church encourages its members to follow the example, the model, provided by the life of the holy person, to pray to him, to keep his memory alive. Praying to a saint does not mean that Orthodox confuse saints with God. Praying to a saint means something very easily understood: we ask the holy person to pray for us.
Through the prayers of all the saints, may we be encouraged to follow their example of virtue and holiness.