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.
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