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By Kyril McGown
Holy American Orthodox Church 

Thanksgiving for special days

 


Many years ago, I remember sitting on a bench in my grandparents’ backyard and listening to him talking to a friend who had stopped by for a visit. I overheard him say, “August is a good month to get work done. There are no holidays in August.”

Of course, this wasn’t important to a child of 10 or 11 but, a year or so later when I was an altar boy in our church, I realized that there were two special days in August: two Holy Days – Aug. 6, the Transfiguration, and Aug. 15, the Dormition, also called the Assumption of Mary.

Later when I joined the Orthodox Church, I discovered there were two others – Feast of Our Lord Jesus the Christ on Aug. 1 – a day when the Eastern Christians celebrate the procession of the True Cross in Jerusalem, and Aug. 16 – the celebration of the Icon Made Without Hands. It’s the commemoration of the woman who wiped Jesus’ face with a cloth while he was on his way to his crucifixion.

Now, one has to remember that when the entire world was catholic, i.e.: universal, all Holy Days were holidays. In fact, that is the origin of the word “Holiday.”

Older still, I have two days to celebrate this month myself.

As I continue to point out in these columns, this appears on Aug, 28, which is Aug. 15 for me and those Orthodox Churches that still use the Old Calendar.

When I was 58, on this day, I was ordained a deacon in the Orthodox Church in New York City. That was 31 years ago.

Deacons in the Orthodox Church, such as the Episcopal or Anglican or the Roman Catholic, are quite different than they are in many Protestant Churches. They don’t constitute the board that hires or fires the pastor. They don’t have much, if anything, to say about the control of the church property.

They are, like the deacons in apostolic times, to assist the bishop. Often, they are assigned to duties in the Bishop’s office. Currently, they are appointed to various parishes within the Bishop’s jurisdiction to assist the priest, who is the pastor there.

Fast forward now to 1997.

On Aug. 16 of that year, I was elevated to the Office of Bishop by eight other Bishops and Archbishops and appointed Bishop of Lincoln. So, now I have another day for celebration in August.

So after all these years, I guess my grandfather was either wrong or my grandfather just didn’t live long enough, although when he died he was the same age as I am now.

Even though I am now officially retired, I have many things to be thankful for – especially in August – and that I belong to a Church that celebrates all those special days in the life of Jesus and his mother, and so many others who followed him in his lifetime, and all those who follow him today even though they many have followed a different path to do so.

I am also thankful for all those who have become my friends over the years and who have accepted my friendship, despite our different paths.

And, may we always be thankful for holidays.

Metropolitan Kyril,

Holy American Orthodox Church

 

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