Creator of the universe, setting times and seasons by Your sole authority, bless the cycle of the year of Your grace, O Lord, guarding our rulers and Your nation in peace, at the intercession of the Theotokos, and save us.
You who created all things in Your infinite wisdom, and set the times by Your own authority, grant Your Christian people victories. Blessing our comings and goings throughout this year, guide our works according to Your divine will.
Luke 4:15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. 22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
Though the creation of the world took place in the month of April, and thus at the beginning of Spring (Exodus 12:1-20, 51), the years began to be counted only after Adam’s expulsion from Paradise, because -the Garden of Eden being ‘Heaven on Earth’- it was impossible to measure time while standing in the all-encompassing presence of the transcendent Lord and eternal God. But, with mankind’s subsequent fall – which probably took place in the Fall, since the Fathers make repeating, recursive references to man sojourning a number of ‘seven’ days, maybe years, or perhaps decades, -some say even centuries (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8)- in the Garden – the seventh month of the year was chosen for marking the beginning of counting time. Thus, September 1 became the Ecclesiastical New Year (Leviticus 23:23-44), the Old Covenant bestowing sanctity and holiness upon the seventh day and seventh month, while the New Testament hallowed the first day and month, thus expressing its belief in, and reminding us of, Christ’s restoring, redeeming and recapitulating mission, through His saving messianic work.
As we read our way through the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, we witness a gradual increase of temporality, as well as materiality, happening before our very eyes. On the first day, the ethereal light comes into existence, only to be followed on the second by the fluids, through the separation of the gaseous atmosphere from the liquid hydrosphere, and, on the third, by the earth’s solid crust emerging from below the great, dark surface of the all-engulfing primordial ocean.
At the same time, we see the immeasurable eternity slightly unfolding itself by the gradual appearance of clockwise mechanisms, capable of dividing and quantifying the before-then ungraspable essence of its primordial Chaos, into which the Same divine Logos plunged as into a deep, vast sea of darkness, crying out aloud to the inert, disordered Nothingness: ‘Let there be light !’ ... ‘and it was light’ – thus the first day ever came into being: the first and smallest natural way of counting time, by the repetitive and undisturbed succession of days and nights: ‘and it was evening, and it was morning – day one’.
Three days later, on the fourth of the week of creation, the luminaries came into existence, ‘to divide the day from the night’ – thus reinforcing the power of the before-made distinction; and to ‘be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years’ – thus not only increasing the strength to what has been previously made, but also adding new elements of temporality: for the Moon does not only measure the night, but also the months; and the Sun, in its turn, measures not the day only, but also the years ... and not only that, but, by creating the Sun on the fourth day, while letting the Moon achieve its fullness only on its fifteenth day, He shows us His great Wisdom, by revealing before-hand to us the eleven day difference between the Solar and Lunar years.
The number of the fourth day, chosen for the creation of the time-measuring celestial bodies, is not taken merely by accident, but is meant to reveal unto us the fourfold division of each of the dimensions of our threefold Universe, thus reminding us of the Priestly breastplate of judgment, consisting of four rows of three stones each: the four seasons which crown the yearly cycle: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter; the four corners of the earth: North, South, East and West, -or the four spatial directions: forth, back, left and right-; and the four elements, created on the first three days: light, air, water and earth.
But the year is not the only fourfold time-unit: the day itself consists of four such periods: morning, day, evening and night. Thus the parallel between each of the four day-periods and the four seasons of the year becomes suddenly clear: Spring is as morning, Summer as day-light, Autumn as evening, and Winter as night. The last consists of three months: December, January and February, making the second analogical to midnight. Autumn, on the other hand begins with September. The Gregorian calendar counts the days from midnight till midnight and the years from January to January, whereas the Julian one, on the other hand, counts the days from evening till evening and the years from September to September. – A perfect parallelism!