Friday, September 1, 2017


Thanks to our peculiar contemporary custom of using numbers instead of the names of our months, we all know that September is the 9th month of the calendar year - although the name "September" still obviously means that it is the 7th month - or at least was when we recall the original Roman calendar that began with March. This disconnect between the numerically inspired name of the month, based on its position in the original Roman calendar, and its actual number in the current year in the calendar we use now is one of the odd features of these final four months of the year. 

September is also back-to-school month in man places - except, of course, in those places where school already started the month before! Perhaps that is really just another argument for year-round schooling!

In the Eastern Orthodox Churches, September 1 (which occurs on Gregorian September 14 for those still following the Julian calendar) marks the beginning of the new year. Presumably this references the Jewish calendar, which numbers its years from the 1st day of the 7th month (Rosh Hashanah). Celebrated in the diaspora for two days, Rosh Hashanah this year will begin at sundown on Wednesday, September 20, and end at sundown on Friday, September 22. It will mark the beginning of the year 5778.

September 1 has also been designated by Pope Francis as the Annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. In his message for the first Annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in 2015, Pope Francis wrote:

As Christians we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation. We need always to keep in mind that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us” (Laudato Si’, 216). The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (ibid., 217). For “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (ibid.).

The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live. The celebration of this Day, on the same date as the Orthodox Church, will be a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. We live at a time when all Christians are faced with the same decisive challenges, to which we must respond together, in order to be more credible and effective.

(Photo: September from the famous Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, an early 15th-century prayer book, which is generally considered perhaps the best surviving example of medieval French Gothic manuscript illumination)

No comments:

Post a Comment