September 17th, 2016

In the Beginning…

Happy New Church Year!
September 1st was the first day of the new liturgical year. A pious tradition of the Church holds that Jesus of Nazareth began preaching the good news of His mission on September 1st. When our Lord entered the Synagogue, He was given the book of the Prophet Isaiah to read and He opened it and found the place where it is written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant,
and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”
(Luke 4:18-21).

 

Tradition also holds that it was during the month of September that the Hebrews entered the Promised Land. And, the custom of beginning a new year with autumn was common in Biblical and Mediterranean lands because the summer harvest was completed, the crops were stored, and it was a time when people began preparing for a new agricultural cycle. It was an appropriate time for a new beginning. This is evident in the services for the New Year as the Church beseeches God for fair weather, seasonable rains, and an abundance of the fruits of the earth.

Nativity of the Theotokos
The first great feast of the new liturgical year, September 8th, honored the Mother of God’s birth; the last great feast of the year, August 15th, remembered her falling asleep. Between these two great feasts the Church marks 1o more great feasts as well as Pascha, the Feast of Feasts. Please check the calendar for our parish’s liturgical schedule to make sure you set aside the time to worship God through the coming year.

St. Sophia’s Catechesis Has Begun

Our new catechetical program, offered in English and Ukrainian, will be featured in the New Star eparchial newspaper this month! Be sure to join us at the next one on Sunday October 16.

This month, we were focused on beginnings. We learned how to hold our fingers when praying the Sign of the Cross, how to ask a priest for a blessing, and how to venerate icons. We discussed the first day of creation (Gen 1:1-5). This led to breakout discussions with the catechists on salvation history, the monarchy of the Father, the integration of faith and science, our salvation in Jesus who is the light of the world, our use of candles in prayer, and much more. The St. Faith/Vira class served everyone chocolate and vanilla ice cream to recall God separating the light from the darkness.

Text won’t replace the Christian fraternity and personal interaction that comes from attending class, but we do have an all-ages pamphlet to help reinforce what was learned which you can now download here. The pamphlet includes:

  • This month’s Bible verse and prayers including the new addition of the morning prayers in Ukrainian
  • Instruction on the nature of the Trinity
  • Biography of Andrei Rublev, iconographer of the famous Hospitality of Abraham icon, often called The Trinity
  • Biography of St. Patrick of Ireland who is known for his teaching on the Trinity
  • Lyrics and links to the song God is the Boss, which teaches how to make the Sign of the Cross
  • Coloring page and information on the Feast of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross
  • Information on Evolution v. Creation and Genesis
  • Instruction on pious behavior, covering the internal and external dispositions of physical movements and postures like prostrations
  • Information on asking a priest’s blessing and venerating icons
  • Instructions on praying the Sign of the Cross
  • Information on the filioque

Everyone in the parish is focused on learning the same prayer and the same Bible verse this month. If you haven’t started to integrate the recommended morning prayers, included in the pamphlet, please take 2.5 minutes from the day to start the good habit now.

Homework: Memorize the Bible verse and learn the Sign of the Cross. If you know the Sign of the Cross well in one language, please learn it in a new language and teach others in the languages you already know. (We recommend knowing it in English, Ukrainian, and Greek.) We’ll pray these together at the next catechesis on Oct 16.