Sunday, October 5, 2008


The typikon (ukaz) directs that the continuous reading of the Gospel of St. Luke (18th. Week after Pentecost) begins on the Monday after the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The Apostolic readings (or Epistles) remain on the same continuous schedule as they have been and there is no skip forward associated with these.

Therefore, in most years, during the period of St. Luke, the Gospel and Epistle readings follow different schedules and are each taken from a different week after Pentecost. The Sundays from this point forward are actually referred to by two names - for example - on October 5 of this year, we observe the 16th. Sunday After Pentecost and the First Sunday After the Cross.

Various interpretations have been given for this sudden interruption in the reading of Matthew’s Gospel and the switchover to the beginning of Luke. The most often cited is the celebration of the feast of the Conception of St. John the Baptist on September 23 (October 6 civil date). Because of its proximity to the beginning of the ecclesiastical new year and the church’s desire to remember the events of salvation history in order during the course of the year, it was sensible to begin reading from Luke’s Gospel, since only in Luke is the story of the Baptizer’s conception and birth recounted.

As time went on, newer feasts were added to the church calendar, including the Nativity of the Mother of God on September 8/21 (5th-6th centuries). This resulted in lesser attention given to the original intent of the sudden changeover to the Lukan cycle.

One final point of interest is that while Greek and Arabic calendars and those based on them (including many Ukrainian ustavs) have always observed the “Lukan or September jump,” Russian usage mostly ignored it. Only in the 20th century, through the influence of the noted liturgical scholar N.D. Uspensky, has the Moscow Church begun to restore the proper beginning of the Lukan cycle and today most Russian-based calendars reflect its role in the Orthodox typikon. +Vladyka Mykhayil

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