“It is part of the goodness of God, that He, who has no beginning and no ending, the Eternal Trinity, should take such care to give us a year which begins and ends, and then begins all over again. In our human and finite state we need fresh starts, and this is one of them…” ~ Fr. Michael Harper, “The Orthodox New Year”
September 1 is rapidly approaching, and a new Church year will begin. The Ecclesiastical New Year is an important time for Orthodox Christians. Unfortunately, it is often nearly overlooked. This year, let us prepare ourselves and our children to celebrate the Ecclesiastical New Year, remembering its importance, and solemnly celebrate it as the new beginning for our Church year.
Here are a few resources to help us think about the Ecclesiastical New Year’s importance, and plan to celebrate accordingly:
- Read about the history of the Ecclesiastical New Year’s celebration at http://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=188.
- Read more of Fr. Michael Harper’s article (quoted above), “The Orthodox New Year,” at http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/fasts_feasts/harper_new_year.htm.
- Listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko’s meditation on the times and seasons of the Church year, beginning with the Ecclesiastical New Year, at http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/happy_new_church_year.
- Read through this meditation on the Ecclesiastical New Year http://www.orthodoxchristian.info/pages/indiction.htm, then adapt it according to your children’s understanding level, and share it with them.
- Together as a family, create a “crown of the year” poster. At the top, write “Bless the crown of the year with Thy goodness, O Lord.” Together as a family list, draw, or otherwise illustrate with pictures cut from magazines different aspects of God’s goodness with which you would like Him to bless your family. (For example: kindness, illustrated by someone helping someone else; forgiveness, illustrated by a person receiving absolution after confession; love, illustrated by family members hugging; etc.) Place the poster somewhere where you will see it and be reminded of what you have asked of the Lord at the beginning of this new year. At the end of the year, revisit the poster and list ways in which He indeed blessed your year with His goodness.
- Make a time capsule as suggested here: http://www.theorthodoxchildrenspress.com/diy-kids/tocp-diy-family-church-year-time-capsule/
Regardless of which of the above activities we choose to do, let us make it a priority to go to church for the beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year. As we bring in the new Church year, let us be sure that this celebration is a subdued time of reflection, prayer, and committing our year to God. Let us think about the new year, ask God to bless it, and look for His presence in our lives throughout the year ahead.
O Word of the Father from before the ages, Who, being in the form of God, broughtest creation into being out of nothing; Thou Who hast put the times and seasons in Thine own power: Bless the crown of the year with Thy goodness; give peace unto Thy churches, victory unto Thy faithful hierarchs, fruitfulness unto the earth, and Great Mercy unto us. –Orthros of the Feast, Tone 3