Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year’s Day:

The Circumcision of the Lord
And the feast of Saint Basil the Great
   Since New Year’s Day is the beginning of the days of the year, we ought to gather in our soul those thoughts, feelings, and dispositions that would direct our affairs throughout the year in a Christian way. We will find these the moment we bring to mind the meaning of New Year’s Day in the spiritual life.

   In the spiritual life, New Year’s Day is when one who has been living carelessly becomes zealous about salvation and his pleasing to God. When one makes this resolution, then all is rebuilt afresh both internally and externally, upon new beginnings – the old passes away and all becomes new. If you have this, renew it; if not, acquire it – and for you this will be New Year’s Day.

   A worthy celebration of the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord and of the commemoration of Saint Basil the Great is also connected with it. The essence of the change we have mentioned is that a person begins from this moment to live solely for his salvation, for God; whereas previously he lived exclusively for himself, preparing destruction for himself.
   Now he abandons former habits, all comforts, and all in which he found pleasure. He cuts off passions and lustful dispositions and takes on himself works of strict self-denial. Such a change precisely represents that which, according to the Apostle, is the circumcision of the heart and how it should be. The celebration of the Circumcision of the Lord reminds us of this and obligates us to do it, while Saint Basil the Great provides us with an example to follow. So all the themes which crowd our consciousness on New Year’s Day come together into one – our inner renewal through the circumcision of the heart. If it pleases the Lord to give someone this mind-set on New Year’s Day – that is, not only to think in such a way, but also to bring all of this into his life – he will celebrate New Year’s Day in a most perfect Christian manner, and will prepare for a Christian passage of the whole year. On the subsequent New Year’s Day he will only have to renew and enliven what he has now taken on himself.

   Saint Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, Stretensky Monastery, Moscow and Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina California (2012).