From New Liturgical Movement
By Gregory DiPippo
Although the First Sunday of Advent is generally considered the start of the liturgical year in the Roman Rite, this is purely a matter of logic and convention, and is in no way formally indicated in the liturgy itself. In point of fact, many ancient liturgical books of the Roman Rite, such as the early sacramentaries and lectionaries, began with Christmas Eve, and placed Advent at the end of the temporal cycle. The liturgical texts for the feast of the Circumcision on January 1st do not refer explicitly to the civil New Year, although there are some oblique references to the riotous pagan celebrations thereof. Many places in the Middle Ages kept the feast of the Annunciation as New Year’s Day, a custom which lasted in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until 1749, but this is also not mentioned in the liturgical texts of the feast.
Medieval liturgical calendars from the West often note a variety of different historical events in March, with the beginning of the Creation frequently marked on March 18. Theologically, this indicates that the old Creation was completed on the same day that its renewal began in the Incarnation, and for the same reason, many calendars mark the Passion of Christ on that day, with the Resurrection on the 27th, even though the liturgical celebration of these events is movable. (This year was in fact the last time that any man now alive will see the coincidence of Good Friday and the Annunciation on the Gregorian Calendar, but on the Julian, it will next take place in 2034.)
In the Byzantine tradition, however, the Creation of the world is considered to have taken place on the Indiction, a fact to which the liturgical texts of the day refer repeatedly. For example, the tropar at the Divine Liturgy reads as follows.
Maker of all creation, Who settest times and seasons in Thy power, bless the crown of the year of Thy goodness, o Lord, keeping in peace Thy kings and Thy city, by the prayers of the Mother of God, and save us.And likewise these two kontakia:
Maker and Master of the ages, God of all things, and truly greater than all, bless this year, saving in Thy boundless mercy, o Compassionate One, all that serve Thee, the only Master, and cry out in reverence: o Redeemer, grant a bountiful year to all.The connection between the Indiction and the Virgin Mary is highlighted by the addition of a second troparion to Her, with some common themes and vocabulary.
O Thou that created all things in unspoken wisdom, and settest the seasons in Thy power, grant victory to Thy people that loveth Christ, blessing the going and coming of the year, and guiding our works towards Thy will.
Rejoice, o full of grace, Mother of God and Virgin, safe harbor and defense of the race of men. For from Thee the Redeemer of the world was incarnate. For Thou alone art Mother and Virgin, ever blessed and glorified. Pray to Christ God to grant peace to all the world.
|An 18th century Russian icon of the Creation of the World.|