Happy New Year 2019!
Dearest Spiritual Ohana,
Happy New Year to All!
When we ring in the New Year, each year, many of us make resolutions in starting the incoming year fresh with resolve to improve our lives. To keep them, throughout the year can be challenging. I found a list of really achievable spiritual resolutions we as Orthodox Christians can apply to our lives. Please see the following, from Fr. Stephen Lourie, an Orthodox Priest from the Orthodox Church of America (O.C.A.)-Enjoy!:
1) Arrive for Church Services on time! We take for granted the Divine Liturgy at the best of times. Often we believe that as long as we are there for the Gospel, Sermon and Communion we have had “a good enough dose of God for the week.” Partaking of the Matins or Orthros service and the full Divine Liturgy will prepare you fully for stepping up to the precious and life giving Chalice of Christ. This will in turn fortify your spiritual journey into the world for the coming week. Our responsibility to Our Lord is to respect the schedule laid out for us, at least once a week.
2) Ask for forgiveness from our family, friends and Christian brothers and sisters in our parish. Forgiveness is a difficult virtue to put into practice and even more difficult to use regularly. Let us therefore use the virtue of forgiveness as a basis for our continued commitment to theosis and by regarding our earthly relationships with one another as truly important. Let us practice forgiveness, as it is the first step in preparing for Holy Confession and Holy Communion each and every Sunday.
3) Learn about praying and prayers. We tend to use the prayers we were taught as children. There are many prayers available for parishioners to use: check the prayer book and ask your Priest, he can assist by providing prayers that pertain to your specific situation(s). Pray often, more than once a day. If you do not have a prayer corner set up in your home, ask your Parish Priest to assist you in setting one up.
4) Become a steward in your parish and community. Become an active, involved, caring Orthodox Christian. Donate to your Parish, become, if not already, involved in keeping our environment clean (God placed us on this earth to care for His creations!!!), donate to food banks, school lunch programs, etc. Create an organized community outreach for the less fortunate residents of your area. As stewards of humanity, it is incumbent upon us, as Orthodox Christians to lead by example.
5) Attend more than one (1) Church Service per Month. Don’t be a “C ” &”E “(Christmas & Easter) Parishioner. Place prayer, worship and Church Services on your list of priorities, above all other recreational activities. The benefit of a fulfilling spiritual life will lead you to many rewards in the future.
6) Put your God-given Talents to use. We all have hidden talents, or talents not used to their full potential. Recognize them, ask for guidance from Our Lord and put them to use for the benefit of God’s Holy Church.
7) Invite your children, grandchildren, siblings and friends to Church Services. Become a host to your own family. Guide them and explain to them that the One Holy Universal and Apostolic Church is the One True Church. Explain that Orthodoxy offers all to its faithful. Bring one guest to Church per year at least and allow God to do His work.
8) Contact your family members that have stepped away from your family; or if you have stepped away, call your family. Practice patience, understanding and forgiveness. We are on this earth but once. We have one opportunity to practice forgiveness and ask for it as well. It is never wrong to come back home, even after a lengthy absence. We should never be embarrassed to admit our faults to our families and our desire to renew our relationships. We must remember, we are not perfect, we all have faults and we never know when we may be called by God to return home.
9) Experience the life of the Church and her many gifts to heal you. Attend Church services; come to Confession and Communion on a regular basis. We were born unto this earth dependent upon our Lord. Use Confession to unburden your sins and Communion to heal you. Rely on your Parish Priest to be your Father Confessor and Spiritual Guide.
10) Recognize that we are tested by Our Lord and tempted by the devil himself, daily. We are put to the test daily, as in school, so in life. Pray frequently, ask for guidance, see beyond the test, look for the good only in all situations. Avoid temptations that are “too good to be true.” Recognize that we are accountable for all of our thoughts, actions and deeds.
With Love in Christ,
Sunday after Holy Cross; Nikitas the Great Martyr; Philotheos the Righteous; Bessarion of Larissa; Righteous Father Symeon, Archbishop of Thessolonica; John the New Martyr of Crete; Afterfeast of the Holy Cross; Porphyrios the Actor