Happy New Year 2012!

It’s time to turn over a new leaf, and get a new perspective on life.

Wishing all of you a blessed 2012.

Insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result.  Sometimes you just have to see things in a new way before you can appreciate the beauty and opportunity which is in your path.

Liturgical Commemorations for January 1

In the Orthodox liturgical calendar, on January 1 the Church commemorates both the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ as well as honoring St. Basil the Great.

God’s incarnation in Christ comes with some very specific realities for what it means to be human.  For the Jews, it meant circumcision for newborn males.  Jesus, the Son of God, humbly submits Himself to the traditions of man, to prove His own humanity.  Christ was honored from the beginning not just as a great teacher, but as a true human.

“The earliest view, that Christ came to earth primarily as a teacher in order to tell us how to get to heaven, was always inadequate. A simple teacher of spirituality does not need to be God incarnate and does not need to die on a cross to illustrate his teaching.[…]At the moment God became human, divinity was united with humanity, and the eastern church stressed that as a consequence of this, humanity had had bestowed upon it the capacity for deification. In the words of Athanasius, ‘God became human that in him human beings might become God’. The link with God that had been lost by the Fall had been reestablished by the Incarnation, and it was once again possible for us humans to become not God, but what God is: that is, to share in his qualities and participate in his perfection and immortality. (David N. Bell, Many Mansions, pgs. 209-210)

St. Basil the Great is one of the three 4th  Century men honored as an Ecumenical teacher of the Church (along with Gregory the Theologian  and John Chrysostom).  St. Basil’s name is attached to one of the liturgies we commonly celebrate in the Orthodox Church.   Among the many things St. Basil is honored for are his writings:

“‘For he who loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘will keep my commandments’ [Jn. 14.23]. ‘And this,’ he says, ‘is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you’ [Jn. 15.12]. And again, one who loves the neighbor fulfills love for God, who himself accepts the gift as given to himself. Therefore, the faithful servant of God Moses showed such great love for his brothers, as indeed to wish to have his name erased from the book of God, where it had been written, if the people’s sin was not forgiven [Ex 32.32]. And Paul dared to pray to be accursed from Christ on behalf of his brothers of the same race according to the flesh, wishing in imitation of Christ to give himself in exchange for the salvation of all [Rom. 9.3]. Yet at the same time he knew that it was impossible to be estranged from God through his having rejected God’s favor out of love for God and for the sake of the greatest of commandments, and that because of this he was about to receive in return many times more than he had given. The things we have said provide sufficient proof that in fact the saints were first to arrive at this measure of love for their neighbor.” ( St. Basil the Great, On the Human Condition, pg. 118)

Interestingly enough, January 1 is not kept as New Year’s on the Orthodox liturgical calendar, since New Year’s Day in the Old Roman empire, whose calendar the Orthodox adapted for the Church year, is on September 1.  Of course today, many Orthodox do offer prayers to God for the New Year on January 1 since that is the common date of New Years on the civil calendar which governs such things.