Tag Archives: Eastern Orthodox Church

I Wish You “A Happy New Year!”


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Happy New Year 2014

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The earlier Julian calendar, as well as the modern Gregorian calendar, have January 1 as the first day of the year.

At present, most countries use the Gregorian calendar as their de facto calendar and observe January 1 as the New Year’s Day which is probably the most celebrated public holiday in the world. As the new year starts at the stroke of midnight in each time zone, people invariably greet the New Year’s Day it with fireworks. Globally, New Years’ Day traditions include making new resolutions and meeting the members of one’s family and friends.

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The Roman god Janus is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past (Source: storify.com)
The Roman god Janus is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past (Source: storify.com)

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In pre-Christian Rome, the Julian calendar dedicates the first day of the year to Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions. The Romans venerated Janus as the god of gates, doors, doorways, passages and beginnings, and named the first month of the year in his honour. This implies that the New Year’s Day celebrations follow pagan traditions.

Since 45 BC, the Roman Empire used the Julian calendar and had January 1 as the first day of the year. The Gregorian calendar created in 1582 also called the Western calendar and the Christian calendar was a refined version of the Julian calendar and it too had January 1 as the first day of the year.

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Detail of Circumcision of Jesus Christ by Pellegrino da San Daniele (Photograph: Elio Ciol/Corbis)
Detail of Circumcision of Jesus Christ by Pellegrino da San Daniele (Photograph: Elio Ciol/Corbis)

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In the Gregorian calendar of Christendom, the New Year’s Day liturgically marked the Feast of the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus. The Anglican Church and the Lutheran Church still observe the day as such.

The circumcision of Jesus is an event from the life of Jesus. Verse 2:21 in the Gospel of Luke states:

When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The Jewish law holds that all males have to undergo circumcision eight days after birth during a Brit milah ceremony, at which they are also given their name. So, according to Jewish tradition, Jesus born on December 25 underwent circumcision on the eighth day of his life on January 1 and named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before Mary conceived him. Hence, liturgically January 1, the New Year’s Day, marked the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus in the Gregorian calendar of Christendom.

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the event on January 1 as the Feast of the Circumcision. Likewise, the Anglican and Lutheran churches celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus on January 1.

Roman Catholics for long celebrated the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus on January 1. Now, the Roman Catholic Church considers New Year’s Day as a Holy Day of Obligation and celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on this day.

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Prayer Ropes: The Orthodox and Eastern Catholics’ Chotki / Komboskini / Komvoschonion


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Prayer ropes used by Orthodox Christians to pray are known as Chotki, Komboskini or Komvoschonion. These are somewhat similar to the Rosary of the Roman Catholics.

The prayer rope is part of the habit of Eastern Orthodox monks and nuns who pray “Jesus Prayer” instead of “Hail Mary” and “Our Father.”

The Jesus Prayer is a short, formulaic prayer esteemed and advocated within the Eastern Orthodox & Oriental Orthodox churches:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”

The prayer rope dates back to the origins of Christian monasticism itself. It was the custom of the monks to pray the entire 150 Psalms every day. However, because some of the monks were illiterate, they would have to memorize the psalms or perform other prayers and prostrations in their stead. Thus, the tradition of saying 150 or more Jesus Prayers every day began. The prayer rope becomes a very practical tool in such cases for keeping count of the prayers said.

To the Orthodox Christians prayer is heartfelt and inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit. It is a weapon that defeats Satan and the prayer rope is the sword of the Spirit.

The Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic Churches, refer to the canonical hours as the ‘Divine Services,’ and the Book of Hours as the Horologion (Greek: ῾Ωρολόγιον).

The practice of daily prayers grew from the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at set times of the day. In the Book of Acts, Peter and John visit the Temple for the afternoon prayers: Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. (Acts 3:1)

In the Psalms we read: Seven times a day I praise you because your judgments are righteous. (Psalms 119:164)

Among some Orthodox monastics, the canonical hours and preparation for Holy Communion may be replaced by praying the Jesus Prayer a specified number of times.

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Chotki 100 beads
Chotki 100 beads

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Historically, the prayer rope would typically have 100 knots. However, today, Chotkis come in a variety of sizes: 33, 50, 100, 101, 103, 150, and 300 beads tied from 100% wool. Most versions come with multiple divider beads, a knotted cross or a tassel, said to be used to wipe away one’s tears. The Greek Komvoschonion is usually made of knotted wool or “rattail”, while the Byzantine Ruthenians of the Carpatho-Rusyn Mountains use strung wooden beads.

How to Pray a Chotki

Praying the Chotki can be very elaborate, with an entire liturgy written for this purpose or can be very simple using a variation of the Jesus Prayer on each bead.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, through the prayers of Your most holy mother, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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