A New Civil Year: January Liturgical Texts Now Available
The first day of the civil new year begins with the celebration of an important event in the life of our newborn Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, which leads to another celebration later in the week of His manifestation to the world. The liturgical texts for the month of January, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.
On January 1, eight days after His nativity (Christmas), our Lord consented to be circumcised in the flesh in order to become the only human to fulfill the Law of Moses. This act of humility and servitude shows that our Lord identifies with the low estate of His people in order to deliver them from sin and death by introducing God's grace that supersedes the ancient Law.
On this same day, we commemorate St. Basil the Great, archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, who reposed peacefully on January 1, 379. Numerous works of this Father of the Church are preserved, including theological, ascetical and canonical writings as well as the Holy and Divine Liturgy that he composed, which we will celebrate on New Year's Day.
From there, the Orthodox Church moves to our Lord's Epiphany, or Theophany on January 6 – His baptism by St. John the Baptist in the River Jordan. In this great feast, we celebrate the manifestation of the harmony of God in Trinity. The apolytikion of the Feast is based on all four biblical gospels:
"The voice of the Father bore witness to Thee," that is, "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased."
"The Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of His Word," that is, the Holy Spirit confirmed Jesus Christ is God.
Theophany is also known as the "Feast of Lights" in that Jesus, by His baptism in the River Jordan, enlightened the world by His appearance among His creation. Christ's baptism also marks the renewal of humanity: our Lord is cleansed and He shows us how we must be cleansed of sin by drowning it in the waters which He blessed by entering them.
Many Orthodox Churches offer two services of the Great Sanctification of Water on Theophany: indoors, where the faithful can drink the water and take it home; and outdoors at a stream, river, lake or ocean.
On January 22, the Orthodox Church commemorates the young Apostle Timothy. His teacher, the Apostle Paul, encourages him to minister to early Christians in spite of his inexperience: "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).
On January 29, the Orthodox Church holds a smaller commemoration of St. Ignatius of Antioch, namely the translation of his miracle-working relics from Rome, where he foresaw and suffered martyrdom for Christ, to Antioch where earlier he was a bishop. St. Ignatius knew that his voyage to Rome would be his "victory parade" of sorts, as he recounted in his Epistle to the Church there: “Let me attain pure light,” he said. “Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human.” (6:2c) As it turns out, his return home to Antioch was a second victory parade.
The Online Liturgical Guide, produced by the Department of Liturgics, provides the official, uniform word-for-word texts to be used for the divine services in all parishes across the Archdiocese. Should you have any questions, please contact Subdeacon Peter Samore at firstname.lastname@example.org.