Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of St. Basil and the New Year - January 1, 2013
Dec 28, 2012
Protocol Number 01/13
January 1, 2013
Feast of Saint Basil and New Year
Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:23-24)
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we come to the beginning of a new calendar year, we are very familiar with the atmosphere of expectations and hopes for new beginnings that pervades our modern world. With the changing of a number and the turning of a calendar page, many people seek to leave behind experiences and challenges of the past year and look forward to a new year and the possibility of new opportunities and better circumstances in life. Others are thankful for the events and memories of the year that has passed, and greet the new year with anticipation of greater things to come.
While we are influenced by this element of our culture which is linked to how we mark the passage of time, we know as Orthodox Christians that there is a much more appropriate focus in reflection on the past and anticipation of future—the grace of God. It is His grace that offers us forgiveness and hope. It is by His great mercy that our hearts, minds and bodies are renewed. Through His abundant love, we are filled with gratitude for all that He has offered, and we look forward to a new year of tremendous blessings.
This focus on the newness of life we find in God’s grace is essential each day of our lives; but it is also very appropriate on a day when we commemorate Saint Basil the Great. This is an affirmation of the power of grace. In venerating the life and witness of Saint Basil, we recognize that God’s grace was “poured out” upon him, so that he not only had the power to “reveal divine things” but also to be a “minister of the Gospel.” In his writings, sermons, and letters, Saint Basil emphasized the vital role of God’s grace as it has been revealed both in creation and human life, and through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. He also illustrated the power of grace through a life dedicated to caring for the sick, the orphaned, and the elderly
It is also on this day and throughout the month of January that we recognize the sacred work of Saint Basil Academy. Each year we are led by our National Philoptochos Society and local chapters in collecting funds for this ministry of grace. As you participate in the special offerings and the cutting of the Vasilopeta, I ask you to give generously. The care, healing, and love offered by the board, directors, and staff at Saint Basil Academy is a faithful witness of the power of grace. Each day, the children and youth at the Academy see and experience the love of God and are offered examples of the necessity of communion with Him. In this atmosphere filled with grace, they are able to find the guidance, peace, and joy that they need in their young lives.
In addition to your gifts for Saint Basil Academy, I ask you to remember this ministry in your prayers. May you also prayerfully consider the power of God’s grace in your life. As you begin the new year, be ready for the great blessings that God will offer to you and through you to other people. In your commemorations of this day, may you be assured that God’s love and mercy are with you always. On this day of renewal, I pray that you and your families have a happy and blessed New Year.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America