Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What Will We Do This Year? Thoughts on the New Church Year

You who created all things in Your infinite wisdom, and set the times by Your own authority, grant Your Christian people victories. Blessing our comings and goings throughout this year, guide our works according to Your divine will. (Kontakion of September 1)

As the above hymn indicates, we invite God into our daily lives each year when we pray for blessings during the new year. This new year, which begins September 1, 2009, is an opportunity for us to praise God in our achievements, seek God’s forgiveness in our failures, and beg His assistance for our future.

These emotions are not foreign to September for children. Our children know them well. As our children get back into the habit of homework and special research projects, they know too well the feeling of achievement and failure and they know that in order to continue to achieve they must correct their mistakes and make progress in their studies if the new school year will be filled with joy rather than sadness.

As adults too we must take a moment to dwell upon our achievements and failures of the past year so that we can move forward in our lives. In our restaurants we must evaluate what sold or what didn’t sell on the menu. Our children know that if they keep making the same mistakes, they will not make any progress in school and we know that if we don’t change our products our business may begin to suffer in the coming year. Unfortunately, our children are often much better at this than we are.

“Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18.2-3) We must take our lessons from children and spiritually evaluate what worked and what didn’t work in our spiritual lives in the last year and then strive to do better this year. What parent does not challenge his children to get better grades in school one year after another? Likewise our Lord is challenging us, His children, to be better Orthodox Christians this year than we were last year. Just like in school there is always room for improvement.

And improvement in our spiritual struggle is of much greater importance than school because the results are eternal. Of course I would never suggest that we should not strive for the best possible grades in school since God is always glorified in our good achievements. But we must never forget to always be striving to improve our spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church while at the same time attending to our daily lives at work.

So this September, let us take a look back and consider the past year with the following questions:
1. Could I have attended Sunday Divine Liturgy more?
2. Could I have read the Bible more?
3. Could I have reached out with compassion to someone in need more?
4. Could I have fasted more?
5. Could I have studied the teachings of the Church more?
6. Could I have gone to Holy Confession more?
7. Could I have prayed more?
8. Could I have received Holy Communion more?

Consider the answer of Christ Himself: “The young man said to Him, ‘All these I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’” (Matthew 19.20-21) We can always do more to show our Love for God. The question is, “What will we do this year?

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