September 1, 2013
Beginning of the Ecclesiastical Year
Day for the Protection of our Natural Environment
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,
On this Feast of the Indiction we gather in worship of Almighty God on a day and in a time of beginnings. The first day of this new month commemorates the beginning of the ecclesiastical year and our cycle of celebrations and observances that connect our past, present and future as Orthodox Christians and offer a witness of the saving grace and power of God through our faith in Jesus Christ. In addition, this time of year has past and current connections with the agrarian cycle of plowing, planting and harvesting, and it is also the beginning of the school year. Many are returning from breaks and vacations to begin a new year of learning, activities, and opportunities.
This sense of beginning that we share in many aspects of our lives is essential to our relationship with God and how we live our Orthodox faith each and every day. Just as we begin a new ecclesiastical year in anticipation of the blessings to come through our worship and service, we are also called to begin each day in faith and with expectations of what God will accomplish in and through our lives.
We see the manner in which we should begin this ecclesiastical year, the school year, and each and every day to come. First, we must pray and commune with God. We are called to a daily life of prayer, as prayer leads us to our Creator, guides us in truth, and nurtures our hope in an abundant and eternal life. In addition, we must enter this year and greet each new day seeking and receiving the grace of God. In His mercy He forgives us, and in His loving-kindness He cares for us and heals our souls. Finally, we must begin this time offering our praise to God for His provision and seeking to do His will. For each new day He will give us all that we need, and our hearts and minds should be open, prepared, and willing to do His will as it is revealed to us.
It has also been our tradition as Orthodox Christians through the spiritual guidance of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, to observe September 1 as the Day for the Protection of our Natural Environment. This is very appropriate on this day, as the natural order shows us over and over again the process of renewal and new beginnings. In both minute and lengthy processes, we see the handiwork of our Creator. We are constantly reminded through the beauty, complexity, and even the struggles and suffering of our natural environment that we are called to be faithful stewards of all that He has made. We are also shown through the passing of time, the changing of the seasons, and the beginning of each new day the priority of our relationship with God.
As we begin this new ecclesiastical year, I pray that the abundant blessings of our Lord may be upon you through your worship, service, and daily prayer as you live in the grace of God and seek His will.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America
Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of the Indiction and the New Ecclesiastical Year
September 1, 2013