Happy New Year to everyone! (Civil calendar, that is. The Church new year is on 1 September).
We pulled back in to our home yesterday evening about 6pm. We’d split the return journey in two, stopping overnight just west of St Louis in Fenton, MO. It was a bonus: we got the honeymoon suite (complete with heart-shaped tub/jacuzzi and fireplace) for the regular room rate. Of course, with a four year old and two year old in tow, not to mention the road weariness of holiday travel, let’s just say romance was at particularly low levels.
In a tradition that started last year (because if you do it twice it’s a tradition), I attended the Divine Liturgy for the Circumcision of Christ (and St Basil the Great, whose Divine Liturgy was served). I went alone again this year as Anna stayed home with the girls who needed to be in bed and to start catching up on their normal rest and play routines. In our parish, Father serves the Divine Liturgy this night at 11:00pm, which means right about midnight the gifts are being consecrated, and in the first few minutes of the New Year we are being communed with the Holy Body and Blood of our Lord. Last year, of course, I wasn’t even a catechumen, so this was the first year that my first action of the civil New Year was to take Holy Communion. It was a tremendously joyful occasion. I went home with a goofy grin on my face.
In fact, as I recollected on the last few weeks, I was brought again to the joy I have felt since being anointed with myrrh from St Nicholas’ relics. Ironically, I have had much over which to grieve (in varying degrees): the anniversaries of the deaths of my brother-in-law and our baby (in utero), the trouble with my mom and sisters, the end of my PhD program, among other things. And yet, since that Sunday last month, I have felt such a strong and constant joy that has not left me since then. I’ll probably speak about this in another post, but this joy I have felt has crowded out many of the fears that I have had, fears which have, to some extent, paralyzed me in achieving specific personal habits and goals.
Christmas, gift-wise, for Anna and me has been much more modest, and, as far as my own gifts are concerned, much more intentionally minimal. But there are a couple of items I received or acquired during this Christmas season that I have found very pleasing.
One of the items I received was a Sandisk Sansa View, with 8G storage (music, pics and videos), voice recording and FM stereo. That led me to Maria Lectrix and Librivox, to download free recordings of such things as St Patrick’s Breastplate, Confession and Letter; St Augustine’s Enchiridion and On Catechizing the Unlearned; Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations; Plato’s Apology and Euthyphro; Aristotle’s Poetics; Epictetus’ Handbook and Golden Sayings; Lao Tzu’s Dao De Jing; St Bernard of Clairvaux’s On Loving God (all Librivox); and St Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures, the Letters of St Ignatios, the Shepherd of Hermas, St Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, and Sulpitius Severus’ Life of St Martin (all Maria Lectrix).
While on a very short visit to my Dad, I stopped by Eighth Day Books, the best bookstore in the entire universe, and purchased, Archimandrite Vasileios’ Hymn of Entry, and St. Gregory Palamas’ One Hundred and Fifty Chapters. And while visiting Anna’s mom and sisters, I picked up St Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life.
I welcome this new year with great joy and anticipation. I hope you do, too. May the Lord bless you and yours.