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John of Damascus: “it is impossible for us to think without using physical images”

23 October 2019

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“The Lord called His disciples blessed, for He said, ‘Blessed are your eyes, for they see?’ (Lk.10:23). The apostles saw Christ in the flesh; they witnessed His sufferings and His miracles, and heard His words. We too desire to see, and to hear, and so be filled with gladness. They saw Him face to face, since He was physically present. Since He is no longer physically present, we hear His words read from books, and by hearing, our souls are sanctified and filled with blessings, and so we worship, honoring the books from which we hear His words. So also, through the painting of images, we are able to contemplate the likeness of His bodily form, His miracles, and His passion, and thus are sanctified, blessed and filled with joy. Reverently we honor and worship His bodily form, and by contemplating His bodily form, we form a notion, so far as possible for us, of the glory of His divinity. Since we are fashioned of both soul and body, and our souls are not naked spirits, but are covered, as it were with a fleshly veil, it is impossible for us to think without using physical images?”

St. John of Damascus





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