This day the Holy Church commemorates the victory of Orthodoxy over heresies and is why this day is also called the “Sunday of Orthodoxy”. The Synaxarion explains that the day celebrates “the restoration of the holy and venerable icons”, which happened in first half of the 9th century (in 842) “by the Emperor Michael (the Byzantine Emperor), the holy and blessed Empress Theodora (see page 80) and the Holy Methodius (see page 206), Patriarch of Constantinople”. This commemoration was established to celebrate the final victory of the Holy Church over the iconoclastic heresy. In the hymns for this day the Holy Church, glorifying the holy icons, and also its iconodule adherents and inspiring in us the obligation of venerating icons, sings: “A feast of joy and gladness is revealed to us today. For the teachings of the true Faith shines in all their glory, and the Church of Christ is bright with splendor, adorned with the holy icons which now have been restored; and God has granted to the faithful unity of mind.” “Now a pious brightness stretches over all, dispersing the flattery of the impious like a cloud, enlightening the hearts of the pious: come let us fall down with pious wisdom before the honorable icons of Christ worshipping in the Orthodox way”, “and with due honor let us venerate the holy icons of Christ, of the all pure Virgin and the saints, whether depicted on walls, on wooden panels or on holy vessels, rejecting the impious teaching of the heretics”. But in this way the Holy Church at the time of victory over the iconoclasts in the struggle against various heresies finally explained and defined in the canons of the Seventh Ecumenical Council the Orthodox Christian teaching that is now a celebrated event and is not called the celebration of iconolatry but the Triumph of Orthodoxy. It does not mean that after the 10th Century heresies would or could not appear any more; but it means that all following heresies, even though they were numerous and various, find their accusation and refutation in the definitions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.
The victory of Orthodoxy in the Greek Church itself was first celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent, and thus the basis of the present Triumph of Orthodoxy is historical. Together with these things the Holy Church through the celebration of the present day means to grant great comfort to those who attend. This intention agrees with the rules of faith and piety and the ascetic effort of the fast. It sees in this action the proof of their living communion according to their faith and life, and finds in this the foundation for prayerful petition to God for them. After the end of the liturgy on this day it is necessary to serve the special Rite of Orthodoxy (see below), composed by St. Methodius. Again the restoration of honoring and venerating the holy and venerable icons was annually prescribed “from that time these holy confessors appointed the annual commemoration of this solemnity, so that we might never again fall into a similar ignominy” (see the Synaxarion).
Troparion, tone 2
We venerate Your immaculate image, gracious Lord,
As we beg You to forgive our transgressions.
For, in the flesh, Christ our God,
You voluntarily ascended the cross
In order to release Your creatures from enslavement by their Enemy.
Gratefully, then, we cry out to You, our Savior:
‘You filled all things with joy when You came to save the world!’
(tr.: Monk James Silver)
Kontakion, tone 8
See Also a video with Orthodox vespers:
The indefinable Word of the Father was defined
when He became incarnate of you, O Theotokos.
And he reformed the image which had been stained at the beginning
when He joined it to His divine beauty.
And we profess this means of our salvation
As we portray it in our words and deeds.
(tr.: Monk James Silver)
S. V. Bulgakov, Handbook for Church Servers, 2nd ed., 1274 pp.
(Kharkov, 1900) pp. 511-515.Translated by Archpriest Eugene D. Tarry)
PROCLAMATION OF THE SYNODICON OF ORTHODOXY:
As the Prophets beheld, as the Apostles have taught, as the Church has received, as the Teachers have dogmatized, as the Universe has agreed, as Grace has shown forth, as Truth has revealed, as falsehood has been dissolved, as Wisdom has presented, as Christ has awarded, let us declare, let us assert, let us preach in like manner Christ our true God and honor His Saints in words, in writings, in thoughts, in deeds, in churches, in holy icons — worshiping Him as God and Lord and honoring them as His true servants of the master of all, and offering to them due veneration.
This is the Faith of the Apostles! This is the Faith of the Fathers! This is the Faith of the Orthodox! This is the Faith, which has established the Universe!