The New Church Year

THE SYNAXARION FOR 1/14 SEPTEMBER, THE NEW INDICTION, NAMELY THE NEW YEAR

Bless us for the Indiction of the New Year,

O Thou Who art both Ancient and for mankind New,

namely Thee, O Christ.

 
We should know, brethren, that the Holy Church of God celebrates today the Indiction, for three reasons.
 
First, because it is the new year, and many of the old Romans honored it from ancient times. In Latin the word Indiction means “boundry.”
 
Second, the Church celebrates because on this day our Lord Jesus Christ went to the Synagogue of the Jews, and was given the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, as Luke the Evangelist writes (Lk. 4). And when the Lord opened the scroll – O the wonder! – He found that place, namely the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, in which it says the following words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” When the Lord read these words, He rolled up the scroll and gave it to the attendant. Then He sat down and said to the people: “Today the words of this prophecy have been fulfilled in your hearing.” Hearing this, the people were astounded by these graceful words which came out of His mouth, as Luke the Evangelist writes.
 
There is also a third reason why the Church remembers the Indiction today, and celebrates the beginning of the new year: that is, in the hymns and prayers which we offer to God on this feast, we ask that God be gracious to us and bless the new year, and that He grant it prosperity and full of all the physical good things. And that He illumine our intellects, that we pass the entire year in purity and with a good conscience, and that we be well pleasing to God by keeping His commandments, so that by this we may acquire eternal heavenly good things.

Dear brothers and sisters, greetings for the beginning of the Church year as we celebrate the New Indiction, wondering what the next year will bring for us 

When we began the last Church year in Cardiff, we were worshipping in the refectory of Newman Hall, though we had to retreat to Llanelli and travel to Cardiff each Sunday within a few weeks, before moving into St John’s during Advent. 

In Cheltenham, we now wait to see whether it will be possible to continue using the Lady Chapel of All Saints, Pittville, having enjoyed the support and hospitality of Father Robert and his parish, not to mention the Bishop of Ebbsfleet. After the uncertainty and irregularities of the last year, we look forward to re-establishing parish life, with the hope that I may be soon freed from secular work so that there is sufficient time for parish ministry. This is very much needed for our faithful in Gloucestershire.

In Cardiff, the last Church year brought us new parishioners from the West of England, and we pray that the New Indiction will see the further growth of our parish. However, the most important aspect of the past year was the spiritual maturation of the community in the face of adversity and in reaction to the partial loss of our religious freedoms. The privations of lockdown saw a spiritual flowering, which bore great spiritual fruit.  

What we had taken for granted was no longer possible, and everything that we were able to do in limited circumstances made the continuation of spiritual life precious and the of the utmost important. 

The Lord provided for us in abundance, and we pray for that abundance to continue. 

However, using the language of earthly needs, the liturgical texts for the New Year warn us that this abundance is a recognition and reward for our faithfulness. 

In the first verse of ‘Lord, I have cried’, we pray, 

“Having prayerfully learned the all-glorious and divine teaching of Christ, let us each and every day cry out to the Creator: Our Father, Who dwellest in the heavens, give us our daily bread, and overlook our transgressions.” 

… but, we must be praying this as devoted children of the Heavenly Father, living in Faith, righteousness and the fear of God.  

How can we meaningfully pray for God’s blessing at the beginning of this Church Year if we neglect Faith; if we forget prayer; if we reject fasting; if we fail to try and make the Gospel the meaning of lives; if we fail to pursue peace and righteousness; if we live in impurity, rather than striving for purity; if love, mercy and forgiveness are absent from us, our families and homes? Furthermore, how can we pray this of we live without the Church, which prays not ‘My Father’, but ‘Our Father’. 

The second vesperal Old Testament reading, from Leviticus, counters any idea that we can presume the fulfilment of our prayer without actively living the spiritual life. 

“… I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass; and your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” 

Even before we look to the fruits of earthly abundance, the first place that must yield fruit and increase is in our souls and spiritual lives, and we must struggle to cultivate spiritual fruit, and NOW is the time to labour in the garden of our souls, so that the Lord’s material promises and gifts may be mirrored by a season of grace, inner-growth, spiritual-fruits and abundance. 

 “I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid…” 

With prayerful zeal, attentiveness and watchfulness, guided by Faith and clothed in humility, let us set out upon the path of the new year seeking to love, obey and serve God, the giver of all good things. 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark 

Praying on 9/11: Eternal Memory

When the world saw the horror of two passenger planes purposely ploughed into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centre, few could have been prepared for the horror when those towers disintegrated and collapsed, sending a deadly tide of masonry and dust through the surrounding streets.

The world will remain haunted by the sight of flames and smoke, and poor terrified people plunging to their deaths, leaving us feeling as impotent as those who looked on, aghast and numb, on 11 September 2001.

We mark the twentieth anniversary of that fateful day, which also saw a third plane attack on the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crash into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, due to the sacrificial action of the passengers that brought about their deaths, but prevented another target being hit.

For us, as Christians, our over-riding duty, on this day, is to pray at every opportunity possible: for the souls of those who died on that horrific day; for those whose catastrophic injuries changed their lives for ever; for the terrified and traumatised; for those who wake up at night, screaming and weeping from their hellish nightmares; for those who continue to treat and care for those whose lives have been affected; for those who mourn, and have to get through this terrible anniversary; for healing and the emotional rebuilding of society and families that will last generations…. and for peace and hope, for today, tomorrow and in the years to come.

This is really a day for few words, but to simply take up our prayer-ropes for all who need our prayers – living and departed – and to simply pray with hope to the Saviour, the Conqueror of Death, and Prince of Peace, “Lord, have mercy.”

 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

(John 14: 27)

The Beheading of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Please remember that tomorrow is the feast of the Beheading of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, and is a day on which we fast in his memory. Wine and oil are permitted, but not fish.

While the birthday of the shameless Herod was being celebrated, the oath he swore to the vile dancer was fulfilled; for the head of the forerunner, having been cut off, was borne, like food, upon a platter, to those reclining there. O abominable feast, unholy act, full of murder! Yet, honouring the Baptist as the greatest born of women, we call him blessed, as is meet.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

The disciple of the most evil devil danced, and received thy head as her reward, O forerunner. O feast full of blood! Better would it have been not to have sworn thine oath, O iniquitous Herod, grandson of lies! For even though thou didst make thy vow, it was not well sworn. Better would it have been to be proved false, than to cut off the head of the forerunner, who spake the truth. Yet, honouring the Baptist as the greatest born of women, we call him blessed, as is meet.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

It was not fitting, O Herod, to condemn to death the denouncer of thine adultery, for the sake of a satanic love and the burning of cruel fornication. It was not fitting for thee to give his most precious head over to a most iniquitous woman because of a vow haplessly made as a condition for her dancing. O how couldst thou have committed such a murder? How is it that the vile dancer was not utterly consumed when she bore it on a platter in the midst of the feast? Yet, honouring the Baptist as the greatest born of women, we call him blessed, as is meet.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

Again Herodias rageth insanely, again is she vexed. O what deceitful dancing, what a feast of deception! The Baptist is beheaded, and Herod is troubled. Through the supplications of Thy forerunner, O Lord, grant peace to our souls.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

While the birthday of the shameless Herod was being celebrated, the oath he swore to the vile dancer was fulfilled; for the head of the forerunner, having been cut off, was borne, like food, upon a platter, to those reclining there. O abominable feast, unholy act, full of murder! Yet, honouring the Baptist as the greatest born of women, we call him blessed, as is meet.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Who doth not call thee blessed, O most holy Virgin? * Who will not hymn thy most pure birthgiving? * For the only-begotten Son Who hath shone forth timelessly from the Father, * came forth, ineffably incarnate, from thee, O pure one; * By nature he is God, by nature for our sakes, he hath become a man * not divided into two Hypostases, * but known in two natures without commingling. * Him do thou beseech, O pure and most blessed one, ** that our souls find mercy!

(Verses on ‘Lord, I have cried…’)

Troparion, tone 2: The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise * but the Lord’s testimony is enough for thee, O Forerunner, * for thou wast shown to be more wonderful than the Prophets * since thou wast granted to baptize in the running waters Him Whom thou didst proclaim. * Then having endured great suffering for the Truth, * Thou didst rejoice to bring, even to those in Hades * the good tidings that God had appeared in the flesh * taking away the sin of the world ** and granting us great mercy.

Kontakion, tone 5: The glorious beheading of the forerunner * was part of God’s dispensation, * that he might proclaim to those in Hades * the coming of the Savior. * Let Herodias, who demanded the iniquitous murder, therefore lament; * for she loved not the law of God nor the age of life, ** but rather this false and transitory one. 

08/08/2021 – Homily for todays Gospel The healing of the blind men

Following todays Liturgy Father Mark reflects on the Gospel reading.

The blind men are asked – Do you believe that I can Heal you ?

A firm reminder that when our faith is challenged we should remember that Christ came with love to heal us all.

You are also able to watch it and all our past videos on our youtube channel. If you want to be alerted when new videos are uploaded click subscribe.

The Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you all who contributed to today’s Liturgy, and a joyful celebration of the feast of St Seraphim, and thank you to our parishioners who sent greetings from their holidays in Russia and Ukraine!Continue reading

On the feast of St Vladimir and the Baptism of Rus

Dear brothers and sisters, a happy feast to you all as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Equal to the Apostles, St Vladimir, and the Baptism of Rus.

We especially send our greetings to the faithful of our Cheltenham Mission on their patronal feast.

We wish them every blessing and strength as a community.

May God grant you all many, blessed years!

Prayer against Passions, Torments, Despair and Distress

Prayer of St Nikolaj (Velimirovic) to the Most-Holy Theotokos

Petrovskaya Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God: Cell of Hieromonk Mark.