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Koodos-Eotho (Church New Year)
Church calendar begins with Koodos-Eetho followed by Hoodos-Eetho. Koodos means to clean and Hoodos means to consecrate. Eetho means Church. The concepts is to first sanctity and then dedicate the Church. Church is not the building but the faithful. Koodos-Eetho fall on October 30 or 31 if Sunday or on first Sunday of November. Church calendar is modeled after Hebrew calendar. For Hebrews this is "Yom-Kippur" (Day of Atonement). Jews purify themselves and seek forgiveness of sins from God and brethren. Church emulates the same spirit and sets apart for purification and forgiveness.
One year is one revolution of earth in its orbit around sun, thus we have monsoon rotation. Church follows similar pattern; reads scriptures, remembers, celebrates and completes the principal events of our Lord's redemptive activities in a year- cycle so that the faithful constantly grow in Him, Eph 4:15. One year is divided into seven periods.
Sanctification imports variety of meanings such as clean, holy, set apart and dedicate for service of God, etc. God created all animate and inanimate, seen and unseen things in six days and sanctified the seventh day as He rested, Genesis 2:3. Was God tired of works and did He need to rest as if human? No, God does not tire or rest, "Neither slumber nor sleep" Ps 121:4. But why then God rested on the seventh day? It was to show how necessary is for man to relax on seventh day. It is the day exclusively set apart to glorify God for spiritual nourishment, not simply that man abstains from work and idle. Ironically, it is a source of additional income to many. To those who believe in God of "Ten Commandments" it is not an individual choice but mandatory, Ex 20:8. Materialistic and industrial culture, in utter dishonor and infringement, negated God's statutes. As a result of this iniquity mankind is exposed to manifold afflictions and peril against which he has neither skills nor answers.
Personal tidiness is essential precondition for sanctification. Moses advised people to wash their clothes and refrain from sexual indulgence for three days before God descended on the Mount Sinai and gave statutes to Israel, Ex 19:14-15. Rectitude, right attitude, restraints, right demeanor, etc are equally vital. Worship requires preparation. Imagine how meticulously one prepares to receive an eminent guest such as the United States' president! How then should one not prepare body and spirit in perfect hygiene, undefiled heart and go in time to meet and receive the awesome God of Universe, Lord of Lords and King or Kings, Christ Jesus?
How then do we prepare? There are internal and external preparations. External preparations need hardly any mention. We, especially women, are so conscious of it that at times one wonders if so much is desirable. Yet, it is essential to mention that at least from the evening of Sunday-Sunday begins at evening 6 on Saturday of English calendar- faithful should refrain from sensual stimulants. This includes certain dos' and don'ts. Shun television, movies, entertainment performances, rock music, idle jokes, overeating, etc. Prefer vegetarian diet. Must stay away from alcohol and smoke. Abstain from sex; not that it is sin but for the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. "Marriage is honorable among all and bed undefiled," Heb 13:4.
Fasting until receiving Holy Eucharist is imperative, but the question is how far are these practical or relevant in the changed circumstances? Our forefathers never conceived the predicament we are in. for instance, then, men were breadwinners and women were confined to household, rearing children. Nowadays, both husband and wife are wage earners. In this country mostly women enjoy more employment stability and earn more than male spouse. Financial management largely depends on wife rather than husband. We have prayers for sailors but not for aviation personnel. We have prayers for cattle and farmers but not for industrial and shift workers. We have prayers for kings but not for presidents and elected representatives and so on. There were then no shift rotations, night works, aviation, etc. Prayers were formulated and precepts were set based on conditions then existed most of which are now irrelevant. So we may rephrase prayers and redefine precepts to suit new situations but without effacing gist. Thus light refreshment of a night worker after midnight or a coffee to swallow a pill, may not be viewed serious. Devote evening, family together, for Bible reading, songs, prayer and meditation. It is desirable to discuss biblical, moral and doctrinal matters with children. It is God ordained basic duty of parents especially father to diligently teach children about God and bring them up in Godly discipline, Deut 4:9-10. God views the parents' failure seriously and they are at risk of chastisement, 1 Sam 3:13-14. Many faithful are indeed unconcerned of these restrictions. They eat and force children to eat before going to church lest they would starve to death if they forgo breakfast. But truth is the apposite. Forgoing breakfast once a week would enhance health. I know many Hindus and Muslims who fast a day a week. Former archbishop Mor Athanasius, considering special situation, permitted four hours fasting to receive Holy Eucharist. Orthodox insists minimum six hours fasting. Some faithful chew gum even during service. This is extremely detestable. Gargle mouthwash to get rid of bad breath.
Why Orthodox Church insists fasting and prayer before receiving Holy Eucharist? Because the living presence of Christ. Consecrated bread and wine though invisible to our mortal sinful eyes are real flesh and blood of Christ. He is, and ought to be, first before everything. He was, uncreated, before all creations, John 1:1. He took flesh from flesh, was first in Virgin's womb, Mat 1:23-25. His tomb was new wherein no one had been laid before, Jn 19:41. He is the first-fruit of resurrection, 1Cor 15:20.
He is "Alpha" Rev 1:8. Thus, receiving Christ in empty stomach symbolizes that He is greater than our perishable food and desires. Exalt Christ first and He will exalt you, is the sublime idea!
Preparation involves cost. Araunah told David to take the field, the oxen and whatever he pleased for sacrifice. But David said, "I will surely buy it for a price. I will not offer sacrifice to my Lord of that which cost nothing. David bought the field, the oxen and offered sacrifices," II sam24: 22-25. Solomon built the first ever temple of God in this field. Mary spent all her savings to anoint Jesus with costly oil, Jn 12:305. God expects faithful to bring the best fruit of labor to Him. In contrast, some faithful think to put $1 is too much to afford!
Internal preparation is repentance and confession. First, consciously evaluate relationship with God and fellow beings. This naturally involves a dig in the past. The inner man, subconscious mind will bring up and enlighten many flaws. Be honest to follow its dictates. One who does not obey its dictates would never understand own follies. Many people think that if they read, pray and meditate they are right with God. Neither Bible nor Church says so. Without first straightening up relationship with fellow beings one cannot establish right relationship with God. "Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother," 1 John 3:10. "He who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen," 1 John 4:20, Didache 14.
Evading spirit is the greatest hurdle. People often dislike flaws being pointed out. Instead of looking into oneself people often point out to others. Ego and jealousy self-justifies, slander others and exult in vainglory. Pharisee showed this sort of attitude that Jesus abhorred. Certain people constantly indulge in devilish habit of mud slinging. They seldom realize that on most occasions they might miss their target but never get rid of the filth stuck on their skin. The unrighteous may beware how invaluable is wailing of the innocent and how God sustains them and visits iniquity on generations. There is unfeigned need to introspect but natural man denies it. One needs to seek God to discern ones shortcomings rather, by ones own merit one can neither discern nor admit it.
Natural man is proud to say, "I am good, I do no sin, I am right, you are wrong, he is wrong," etc. "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned we make Him a liar and His word is not in us," 1 John 1:8-10.
"Whoever says to his brother 'Raca' shall be in danger of council. But who ever say 'you fool' shall be in danger of hell fire," Mat 5:22. If this is the situation regarding words against fellow beings, how terrible consequence awaits them that hurl malicious words, false accusations, disregard or rebel against God's anointed? Do they not read the fate of Jannes and Jambres, 2 Tim 3:8, Korah, Datan, Abiram, Num 16 who resisted to their own peril Moses? King Saul disobeyed Samuel, intruded the priestly office and God rejected him, 1 Sam 13:14. King Uzziah's pride resisted priesthood. God punished him with leprosy and loss of kingship for rest of his life, II Chr 26:16-21. Are these merely fables?
Forgiveness does not come automatically. One has to seek it first. It is for the guilty to initiate. In the parable of the prodigal son the father was all along waiting for son's return. But he did not go in search of son. It was the son who came to senses, retuned to father and confessed. Surely, sins not confessed are not forgiven. If an offender of fellow-beings says, "I confessed to God in private and sought forgiveness," that misguided thought would tantamount to shadow play. Did Jesus say to first go, sit in closed room and say to God? He said, "Go and first reconcile with your brother and then come to the altar," Mat 5:24. First cast away ego, falsehood, pretense and pride and then seek reconciliation. We claim, "I believe in God." How then we do not obey His statutes? True faith involves perfect obedience to His entire commandments. Honor those who deserve it. Disown sinister and insolent plots that reduce one to laughing-stock and stalls progress. Apply these parameters and self-judge how one is clean and prepared.
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