The beginning of the New Ecclesiastical Year, historically and among other things, is an invitation for all the faithful to give thanks to God for the harvest of the summer, and to bless the coming months of life for yet another year. We are reminded that the Word of God, who made all things in wisdom and appointed the season and times for our salvation, is the Master of the universe and orders all things in perfect harmony for the good of all mankind. It is very humbling, yet extremely necessary to remind ourselves that we are always indebted to God for renewing all that He brought into existence, including our fallen humanity. If we fail to remember the love and mercy of God, we will quickly lose sight of our goal, which is to dwell with God and all the Saints for eternity in the Kingdom of heaven.
It is a struggle to maintain our zeal for eternal life. We are bombarded with the cares of this life, and it is enough for us to just get by on some days. Yet, we are perpetually called to renew our commitment, and rededicate ourselves daily to our Lord and the Christian way of life. It is not without reason that in the Divine Liturgy there are repetitions and reminders of this, “again and again, in peace, let us pray to the Lord.” Not just once, but over and over we are instructed to pray in a spirit of peace. It’s unfortunate, but a fact of our current state, that we forget and become distracted like Martha (cf. Luke 10:40-42), and fail to do that which is most needful in our life. Nevertheless, the Church gently reminds us to re-commit ourselves to a life in Christ, “let us commend ourselves and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God” (Divine Liturgy). The essence found in these two references is that we are being summoned to entrust our life and the lives of others to God, as we make a pledge to live out our life in faith, trust and thanksgiving.
In order to keep the zeal that is within us from burning out, we must fan it with the practice of being deeply grateful to God for all that He has done for us. This requires a conscience effort on our part. It does not come naturally to us. We have to remind ourselves of moments in time when God has noticeably blessed us. I say noticeably, even though we are perpetually blessed and cared for by God and our very existence is upheld by his mercy and love, because only those more spiritually mature are at a point where they can be thankful to God and rejoice in all things, even their sufferings. However, the moment we stop being thankful is the same moment that our zeal begins to subside. The longer we fail to express gratitude the less our zeal will burn and the more discouraged we will become by our life’s circumstances. This is why it is important to make a habit of thanking God throughout the day. To accomplish this, it might be necessary to do some restructuring, both cognitively and practically within our daily schedule. It sounds absurd that we should “fit” God into our daily schedule, but it’s the truth for most. Ultimately we don’t want God to be a part of our routine, but rather the whole of our life’s existence where we are conscience of Him in all our waking hours. I don’t know what each of your days hold, or what your routine consists of, and where God “fits in” with your daily schedule, but I would suggest that if we hope to mature spiritually in Christ, that we may need to take a closer look at how we structure our days and our life in general.
Standing at the threshold of the New Church Year we have an opportunity to start fresh once again. Having said this, I want to encourage all of you to re-dedicate, re-commit and commend your whole life to God. Whatever this may require for you and or your family it is both necessary and spiritually prudent. I know very well that at times it is easy to get discouraged, especially after we feel we’ve already made this attempt so many times in the past. I know what it’s like to start something new in life with a lot of vigor, only to see our efforts fade in time, but we cannot allow this to dishearten us. We must not allow our failures to define us, but rather use them as valued teachers in life. May this year be one of ongoing progress and spiritual growth in Christ as you commit yourself and your whole life to prayer, study, and a more active participation in the mysteries of the Church.
With love in Christ,