Blessings be upon you all.
Tuesday, September 1, marks the beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year, when the cycle of liturgical commemorations begins anew. The existence of this separate New Year’s commemoration, distinct from the civil New Year on January 1, serves as a reminder both to Christians and to the World. The Church, it proclaims, is not bound to the institutions of this world, but rather stands apart from them. The Church, existing in the world but never being of the World, celebrates according to its own calendar and its own traditions, and not according to the World’s schedule. It is, thus, fitting, that on this same day the Church commemorates Saint Symeon the Stylite, a fifth-century ascetic who confounded the World by setting up his hermitage on top of a pillar in the middle of the market in Aleppo. By publicly living a vigorously Christian life, separate from the worldly conception of success and prosperity, Saint Symeon gave powerful witness to the Gospel, especially of the command “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”(Matt. 16:24)
May this coming year bring boundless opportunities to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel in our increasingly anti-Christian and worldly society. Let us also resolve, with God’s aid, to increase our personal spiritual striving, in prayer, fasting, and repentance.
Yours in Christ,
Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic