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Fr. Kyrillos’ Comments and Confessions

(January 2002)

 

We began our Comments and Confessions at the end and beginning of Ecclesiastical years (August and September 2001). We are now at the beginning of the social and legal year, January 2002. The beginning of a new year in January is emotional for every one. That is, we are all aware of the importance of this date for our personal life. If we are young, there is an eager hope for our future. If we are middle aged, we have the concerns not only of ourselves but also of those who depend on us. If we are old, our memories, even those joyful, tint our new year with the sadness that we cannot re-live them if good and pleasant, to modify them for better, or to avoid the wrong in them. The past is crystallized and our memorized or forgotten life remains, in the secret of our hearts, for description, explanation or judgement of what we are. The 1st of January is felt deeply as an addition to our personal age and, therefore, from the optimism of youth to gain and build for the future, we progress towards a sad examination of achievements and failures.

 

It looks as if the 1st of January sounds a very grim day. Some could tell me “don’t you think that this is contrary to the reality of the facts? Look all around you the parties and celebrations that have taken place to receive the New Year.” Indeed, but do you not wonder if all was to silence the voices of the heart reminding us of the passing of time and the approaching of the inevitable death. And all for what? For many people, indeed, it is a grim day.

 

I have to confess that for me is not so! Well, it is a little! But not so, totally! Why is not so totally? Because the Holy Church, does not allow me to go down into such depression. Indeed the thoughts of passing time, of memories of joys and regrets, of successes and failures and wrong doings, spoken words and thought thoughts, and of death are there, however, also there is the celebration of the feasts of Christ, the Mother of God and of the Saints of the end of December and January. These feasts transform the winter grim period of passing from one year to another, from 2001 to 2002, into a period of Light beyond death and decay.

 

When we, following the invitation of the Church, come to celebrate the Feasts, we listen to the texts of Holy Scripture, the Psalms and other texts, written by the saints, exposing, explaining the historical events and transmitting their consequences and effect in our lives, we, I feel, are transformed, are changed.

 

We hear, in the Divine Liturgy of January 6, the words of the Psalm 114:

 

the sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell took hold of me: I found trouble and sorrow, and I called upon the Name of the Lord.”  (verses  3-4.)

 

Indeed I am filled with love, for the Lord will hear the voice of my supplication (Ps. 114:1). The Lord is not far away. At Christmas we had Him as a child born, like any other man; born into poverty like most other men, having to be put to rest in a manger for animals for there was no place for Him in the Inn; being persecuted by Herod the king, who feared the new born Child  becoming his competitor for the riches and power of this world-in fact, hundreds of children paid with their lives: “Herod was furious…and he had all the male children killed who were two years old or less” (Mt.13:18). An  event foreseen  by the prophet Jeremiah more than six hundred years before it happened:

 

A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.”

 So the infant Jesus with his mother had to be taken in flight by St. Joseph to Egypt until Herod had passed away. Even so, in fear of his life since the son of Herod was now reigning in Judea, the young Jesus had to be taken in exile to Nazareth of Galilee. 

 And on the first day of January, the Church shows the Holy Child Jesus submitted to the suffering of the Circumcision. This was a sign of suffering and, even more, a signal of obedience to the commandment of the Law.

 Moreover, also this day, we remember St. Basilios the Great. He was called great on the grounds that with his preaching, today recorded in his many writings, he had taught the Faith; he had shown us the nature of created things and had clarified the beauty of the ways of man. With the text of his Divine Liturgy he has given to all mortals an unshakeable foundation and a seal of doctrine that reveals heavenly things.

 How different appears now the beginning of the New Year 2002! Indeed an outlook of Light beyond death and decay. An outlook of a future because ‘God is with us.’ The invisible Nature of God has joined the mortal nature of man coming forth from the Virgin: O Christ our God, made flesh of the Virgin, save our souls! If we have God with us, we should not allow ourselves to be depressed.

 If we have any doubt, the Church, as a mother, leads us to the feast of Theophany, on 5 January:

 “Weep not in vain, O ye mortal men choked by halters of despair and weighed down with guilt, but in compunction of soul let us approach Him who cleanses all mankind, for He alone is clean, and He grants pardon through baptism.” (Irmos, Canticle Nine, Canon of the Forefeast, at Compline-Mega Apodeipnon.)

I wish you a blessed New 2002 full of Faith, Hope and Love, 

I’ll see you next month Deo volente! (God willing!)

© Fr. Kyrillos LERET-ALDIR

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