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Protocol Number 01/11

January 1, 2011
Feast of Saint Basil and New Year

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

II Corinthians 5:17

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,

The conclusion of one calendar year and the beginning of another is a time filled with reflection and anticipation.  It is a time when we look back over the past year and consider our challenges and joys, our highlights and struggles, and our accomplishments as well as the tasks that are not completed.  It is also a time when we look ahead to a new year with a sense of anticipation, contemplating what may come, planning our activities, and hoping for health and happiness.

All of this reflection and anticipation is encouraged by a culture around us that celebrates the passing of the year and of time without a deep spiritual connection to the events and commemorations that reflect genuine hope and assurance.  As Orthodox Christians we are blessed at this time of year to celebrate two beautiful and holy feasts of the Church which are filled with both reflection and anticipation.  Only a few days have passed since our celebration of the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity, a commemoration of the light of truth dispelling the darkness of sin and death and a feast of joy in anticipation of God’s blessings.

In a few days we will celebrate the Feast of Theophany, another great occasion filled with light and grace.  We will commemorate the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan and the revelation of the Holy Trinity as Christ inaugurated His earthly ministry.  On this day we will reflect on the spiritual significance of this miraculous event, and we will anticipate our continuous transformation in the journey of faith unto salvation.

Both of these feasts help us to put the passing of time and the beginning of the new year into a proper and spiritual context.  This is not simply a non-religious event marking the changing of a number or turning of the calendar.  When joined with our festal commemorations as Orthodox Christians, this beginning of a new year, this time of reflection and anticipation is focused on our spiritual lives and on our ministry of prayer and service.  In the Feast of the Nativity we are presented with the One who became man for our salvation, and in the Feast of Theophany we are enlightened by the witness of the One who sanctifies our lives with His presence.  In His holy birth we receive the gift that should be offered and proclaimed throughout the world, and in His baptism we see the power of the Holy Spirit who also anoints us to share grace and truth through our lives.

Thus, we begin a new year with our hearts and minds filled with these celebrations and with the grace and calling we share as the children of God.  We begin a new year with opportunities for worship and service as we deepen our communion with God and strengthen our witness to others.  We begin a new year in the Lord with a commitment to live each moment in the presence of Christ and to use each day to bring Him honor and glory.  We begin a new year reflecting on the revelation of God’s love, on His forgiveness, on our journey, and we anticipate the blessings of His power and grace in days to come.

It is also our tradition on this Feast of St. Basil and the inception of the New Year to honor a faithful and beautiful ministry of our Holy Archdiocese, Saint Basil Academy.  During this first month of the year we are led by our Ladies Philoptochos Society in collecting offerings to assist in the witness and service of the staff and directors of Saint Basils as they nurture and guide young lives with compassion and faith.  This is a ministry of reflection and anticipation.  It is a reflection on over sixty-five years of dedicated service and on the numerous lives that have found hope, love, and support at Saint Basils.  It is also a ministry of anticipation.  All children who come and reside at Saint Basil Academy have a need for an environment that will give them guidance and encouragement and develop their potential.  For all of us, we can only anticipate the great and wondrous things that will be accomplished in and through the lives of the children and youth who are blessed by this ministry.

On this New Year’s Day and the Feast of our Father and Teacher, Saint Basil the Great, I encourage you to give generously to the work of Saint Basil Academy, and to offer your prayers for those who work diligently and faithfully in the service of our youth and of God.  May we also share in the joy of this season of light and life, expecting the great and abundant blessings of God in the coming year as we offer our worship and prayers and as we serve one another and all people in the grace and power of Jesus Christ our Lord.

With paternal love in Christ,

†DEMETRIOS
Archbishop of America