Many Blessings for the New Ecclesiastical Year

As the Creator of the ages and Master, O God of all and truly far over essence, by Your never-ending mercy, O Compassionate One, bless the coming calendar, in the course of the new year, saving all who worship You, Who alone are the Master, and who cry out to You in awe:  ‘O Redeemer, grant a fruitful year to all.’”

~Kontakion of the New Ecclesiastical Year (Translation by Nancy Takis)

Dearest Spiritual Ohana,

It is an honor and joy that I enter into my 7th year of serving you and all the Faithful of our Spiritual Home of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Pacific, here in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was on September 1st, 2013, that I officially began my ministry here, 6 years ago.  How quickly time passes!  I am truly thankful for all of you who are here today and all who have come and gone over the years I have been here.  It is my wish and desire that I always be a “servant leader” to my flock, reflecting and modeling our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who is the “mark” and example for us to model as human beings made in His Image and Likeness.  I look forward to as much time the Lord wills for me to serve here.

September 1st, marks the beginning of the New Ecclesiastical Year.  With this date, we enter in a New Liturgical Year, the beginning of the Church’s calendar cycle.  From where did we receive the tradition of beginning the cycle of the year in September?  Where do we trace its roots and find its meaning for us?

St. Nikolai Velimirovic gives us, below, a concise summary of what the New Ecclesiastical Year is:  

September 1

The First Ecumenical Council (Nicaea, 325) decreed that the Church year should begin on September 1. The month of September was, for the Hebrews, the beginning of the civil year (Exodus 23:16), the month of gathering the harvest and of the offering of thanks to God. It was on this feast that the Lord Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21), opened the book of the Prophet Isaiah and read the words: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2). The month of September is also important in the history of Christianity, because Emperor Constantine the Great was victorious over Maxentius, the enemy of the Christian Faith, in September. Following this victory, Constantine granted freedom of confession to the Christian Faith throughout the Roman Empire. For a long time, the civil year in the Christian world followed the Church year, with its beginning on September 1. The civil year was later changed, and its beginning transferred to January 1. This occurred first in Western Europe, and later in Russia, under Peter the Great.

Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume Two.

In addition to what St. Nikolai summarizes about September 1st, as the start of the civil year which once coincided with the Ecclesiastical New Year, the word “Indiction,” is used for both the secular and religious celebrations taken from the Latin word meaning “to proclaim.” Civilly, September 1st, was established as the start date for the assessment of the annual land tax to support the needs of the Empire and its Armed Forces and was issued for 15-year cycles.

As members of the Body of Christ, His Church, we begin a new chapter in entering into the New Ecclesiastical Year, here in Hawaii and all around the world.  On these most remote Islands, we are called to proclaim Christ to all those around us through our examples as each being “spirit-filled” and living members of the Body of Christ, His Church.  We welcome all our new comers to the Cathedral and look forward to building lasting relationships.  We are really excited that we have quite a few young adults who have joined us.  We are looking forward to starting up our Young Adult Ministry, which is under development.  We are also thrilled that our Sunday School will start its new year with new teachers coming on board.  I look forward to the likely possibility of having new altar boys in the altar to help serve as I celebrate at the Divine Services.

May God bless us as we embark upon this New Ecclesiastical Year!

 With Love in Christ,

+Fr. Alexander

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