Sunday, August 20, 2017 UTC

DEC 31 & JAN 1: CIRCUMCISION OF OUR LORD; FEAST OF ST. BASIL THE GREAT; SATURDAY & SUNDAY BEFORE THEOPHANY & NEW YEAR’S DAY

circumcision-and-basil DEC 31: CONFESSION – 2:00 – 2:45 PM; GREAT VESPERS – 3:00 PM (ST. NICHOLAS PARISH); JAN 1: MATINS – 7:00 AM (ST. NICHOLAS PARISH), DIVINE LITURGY – 10:00 AM, SPANISH LITURGY – 12:30 PM.

On the Church’s Calendar, December 31 is also the optional memorial of Saint Sylvester I, Pope.  Sylvester was our 33rd pope, serving as Pontiff from the year 314 til his death in 335. Sylvester was pope during some very important moments in our Church’s history.  He organized the public worship of the Church at the time following the persecutions when it became legal for Christians to gather for worship. People in many countries, especially countries such as Germany, Poland, Belgium, and Austria, celebrate New Year’s Eve as “Sylvester Night” in honor of Saint Sylvester’s feast day.  There is much revelry, including fireworks and the consumption of “Sylvester’s Punch.”  Some legends even equate Saint Sylvester with Father Time.

On Sunday, the Gospel Reading is Mark 1: 1-8 in which John the Baptist Prepares the Way. Mark was the first gospel written.  It is especially appropriate that it starts with “This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ….”  The beginning of the gospel of Jesus is about John, who began preaching several months or a year before Jesus did.  Both John and Mark quoted from Isaiah, who preached about 700 years before John and Jesus were born. God didn’t just send Jesus into a situation where no one was expecting him-the way had been carefully prepared.

Today we commemorate The Circumcision of Our Lord, eight days after the Nativity. Jesus was circumcised and named on this day, in keeping with the Law of Moses and signifies that He is the fullness and the completion of the Old Covenant. . “When the eighth day arrived for his circumcision, the name Jesus was given the child, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.”  (Luke 2:21).  During this feast, we also recall the childhood of our Lord, the “hidden years” from his infancy until the beginning of his public ministry.

Today also commemorates the anniversary of the death of Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea. He was one of the most distinguished of the Doctors (teachers) of the Church. Chosen bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, he was a tireless preacher, champion of orthodox theology against the Arian heresy, a writer of theological works, and a monastic legislator whose “rules” of monastic life are still followed throughout the Christian East. He is credited with an Anaphora (Eucharistic prayer) which is a masterpiece of theology and devotion, recounting the entire history of salvation. This Liturgy of Saint Basil is used on the great baptismal feasts, on the Sundays of the Fast, and on this, his feast day.

 

 

 

 

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