Text Box: Well, here we are at the beginning of a New Year—2008.  I remember asking my father in 1960, when I was 8 years old: ‘Dad do you think that you and I will be alive when it is the year 2000?’ It seemed to me as far away as the Space Age I was reading about in my children’s comics. He said to me: ‘You will be, son, but I won’t.’ And I remember thinking then, that the year 2000 did not seem so exciting after all. What this New Year holds for each of us is a mixture. Part is anticipated and sensed already (we already know what we want  from our year and how we might go about getting it); and part (a large part of it at that) is hidden from us. And that is a blessing as well as a chalText Box: lenge to us. The year will hold great happiness; but also may contain sadness and sorrow. It is better to take them both from the hand of God as they come and not to anticipate them. God’s providence arches over each one of us. It does not guarantee us protection from sorrow; but it does guarantee us, who have faith in the Lord’s unfailing love for each one of us, that the sorrows that come our way will be God-blessed, and God-supported. In other words that He  has allowed whatever pain we might have, to be our destined lot; and that he will never allow us to be overwhelmed by it.
Those who entrust themselves wholly to God’s Providence, are guided in a Text Box: special way. It is a luminous vocation: a deep mystery of faith to live in this way; and it changes a human destiny. Those  of us who live more sporadically entrusting ourselves to God’s Providence at some times, wanting control most other times, are still in God’s hand—but in a different destiny. Yet God’s love always surrounds his beloved, always.
Text Box: St. Gregory’s News Letter
Text Box: The Great Blessing of the Waters
Text Box: January 6th used, once upon a time, to be Christmas—as far as the Eastern Church was concerned. When December 25th was presented by the Western Church, and the East agreed to keep it in the calendar (in those days Text Box: ecumenicity was not seen as a heresy but as a duty) people thought: ‘This will never catch on!’ But they were wrong. The Feast today retains echoes of its great past, however. On this day the Jerusalem Church used to make a Text Box: procession to the River Jordan in memory of Jesus’ baptism. There they blessed, and drank of, the waters, and recalled the great  Theophany ( revelation of God) which took place at the river when the Father  spoke out:  ‘This  is
Text Box:                  X Theologos 
Text Box: St.Gregory the theologian orthodox chapel

St. Gregory—Mount Athos

 

 

My Son, the Beloved.’  Today we recall that festival in Jerusalem by the Blessing of the Great Waters which we celebrate after the Liturgy. This is an especially solemn prayer of blessing for the water, and for the whole world, in which the whole church prays alongside the priest, for the  powerful grace of God to descend into

the water. The blessing of God sanctifies a material thing, to be used in sanctifying us, who are the living icons of God. Often when we forget about God, or might wander away into temptations or sins, we can recall ourselves by using this holy water as a cleansing ritual. Orthodox people do not just sprinkle holy water

around their houses: they use it on themselves; drinking it in times of trouble and purifying themselves with it as a sign of repentance. Use it to bless your work place: it casts out the negativity of wickedness from places. For us it is a radiant symbol of a transfigured Cosmos. Christ the beginning—we in his steps.