My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As August ends and September begins, we find ourselves back in a familiar routine. Our kids have gone back to school, less free time exists to fill our days and vacations are a memory past. We return to a routine that for 10 weeks has been almost forgotten. The same can be said about our life in the Church. It is no secret the lazy days of summer give us pause even from our life in the church.
The new Ecclesiastical Year begins September 1. The month of September was, for the Jews, the beginning of the civil year, the month of gathering fruits and bringing to God sacrifices of thanksgiving. It was at the time of this feast that our Lord went into the synagogue in Nazareth, opened the Book of the Prophet Isaiah and read the words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; because He has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the meek; He has sent Me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to 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.”
The month of September also brings us to the celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Around the year 325AD and at an advanced age, St. Helen journeyed to Jerusalem to find the Cross of our Lord. On the spot where the crucifixion had taken place, a temple to Aphrodite had been erected by the Emperor Hadrian to cover this holy place. Upon her arrival, St. Helen had the statue of Aphrodite destroyed and the earth removed revealing the tomb of our Lord and three crosses.
In an attempt to determine the Cross of our Lord, Patriarch Makarios instructed that the crosses be placed on a deceased man whose funeral procession was passing by. Having placed the first two on the deceased and without change, the third brought the man back to life. In addition, the cross was placed on a sick woman who recovered. Patriarch Makarios raised the Cross for all to see and the people sang “Lord Have Mercy.”
It is my prayer the new Ecclesiastical Year be a new beginning for each of us and our commitment to our faith and parish, strengthened by the power of the precious and life-giving Cross.
In His Service,