September is a new beginning. Here I refer not to the new school year. Indeed, these days in a special way we pray for all students and faculty who again step warily into a bizarre academic adventure. Most of us shift gears after the Labor Day weekend. Vacations are over, we return to work. But there is something else that marks our time as Ukrainian Catholics. On September 1, based on ancient tradition, Churches of the Byzantine rite begin a new liturgical year. Together we initiate a new sacred journey through the mysteries of God’s relationship with humanity.
A week into the year, on September 8 we celebrate the birth of the Mother of God and progress through the next 12 months embracing different feasts that mark our salvation, culminating with the Dormition of the Mother of God on August 15.
Diverse ways of telling time and marking the calendar have been developed in different civilizations. No matter what calendar we follow, the passage of time is an important process for all people. Time is a great gift. It is wonderful when we have time for each other. With this in mind, I would like to offer a short regular reflection in our archeparchial newspaper, The Way, to communicate with you, dear readers, our clergy, religious, and members of our parishes and communities.
Foremost for us is to have time for God. To pray, to read the Scriptures, to listen to God’s tender voice. This cannot be done instantly or in a condensed manner. It requires both patience and rhythm, day in, day out.
Only in this world and this life does the clock tick. In the spiritual realm of divine eternity, we will no longer be pressed by or for time. Freedom from the imperatives of urgency, haste, age, and growing old will be one of the great blessings in the fullness of the Kingdom.
While we enjoy the modality of existence in this world it is important to celebrate the time that we are given. We have a rich calendar of Christian feasts that reveal God’s Kingdom here and now. Every week we are given a Sunday, the rest we are called to every seventh day. The liturgical year helps us celebrate God’s entering our world, our body, effecting our salvation. God participates in and conquers our death allowing us to live with the Lord in eternity. During this year of celebration, we have our own special dates and occasions.
Time is a blessing. “He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down”, says the psalmist (Ps 104,19). Spiritual wholeness is fostered when we appreciate the God-given cycle of day and night, spring-summer-fall-and winter– all carriers of life, all intricately designed and offered to us by the Lord.
Let us use our time well. May it be filled with real, life-giving relationships. May our days be blessed by God’s presence in our work, study, and leisure. Let our time be filled with the peace of Jesus’ gaze. Before going to sleep take a moment to look into God’s face to feel the warmth of His Presence, to recognize the gifts of the day, and embrace the rest of the coming night.
Blessed be our year in the Lord!