Who do you say that this is?
Notice that I did not ask whom this icon depicts. I asked who it *is.* And you answered correctly, right?
You can’t get an image that works properly as such unless the image and the thing to which it refers both participate to some extent in the same Form.
Consider a triangle, scribed on the page before you. Is it a triangle, at all? Is it the *least bit* triangular? If so, this can only be because it *truly* re-presents the Form of the Triangle. But as presenting that Form, it is a very instance of that Form. The Form of the Triangle is really, concretely present in the triangle on the page, albeit imperfectly.
Thus if an icon makes a part of the form of Christ present, then Christ is really present, at least in part. As with any sacrament, the signification operates by being itself participant in the thing signified.
Remembrance, then, is just such an imaginative re-presentation; in any memorial, the form of the substantial being we remember must be somehow present in our own, informing and shaping us, or else the phantasm we apprehend could not function for us as a memory. In that case, the phenomenon could not work to bring anything definite to mind; it could not generate a noumenon. We can remember only reals; and we can remember them only by making them again really present in our experience, or rather by admitting them thereto.
When we see an inscription of a triangle, we do not act as if it were a squiggle, signifying nothing. On the contrary, we order ourselves in relation to the inscription precisely in terms of its triangularity.
Reverence in the presence of an icon, then – a church, a cross, a Bible, a gathering of two or three in the Name, a saint – is at least good manners; is at least prudential.
But not worship, of course. There is in the notion that Christ is somehow present in an icon no tincture of idolatry. It should hardly be controversial to say that the Logos of the world, who expresses himself in every creature, and is therefore in all of them more or less immanent, is present also in an intentionally devised image of his perfect worldly instantiation. He is, of course. Nevertheless it is a foolish error to worship a creaturely image, rather than the One whose presence it indicates; for this is to confuse the term with its terminus. In like fashion, one does not take the measure of an actual triangle as straightforward demonstration of the eternal truths of trigonometry, but rather only as the manifestation thereof; nor does one try to journey from Phoenix to Flagstaff by walking across a map of Arizona.
Consider then that every man and woman you see is created in and by the Image of the Father; each is an icon.