Happy New Year!

Dearest Spiritual Ohana,

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2020 is here! We enter into a new era and decade in this 21st Century. With the passage of time we have so many dynamics that come into play. There are plenty of expected and anticipated events that are given in the calendar year: all the Seasons, Holidays, new beginnings, achievements, conclusions, milestones, etc. There are also all the unknowns that are interwoven in every year in each of our lives, such as illnesses, losses, weather events, natural disasters and many surprises -good and bad -- that come our way. There are so many challenges to face within a year.

No matter what is in store for us this coming year, let us hold on to our hope in the Lord and be grateful to Him in everything that comes our way, dealing with everything with faith in God and doing everything in our will and might to give glory to Him.

St. John Chrysostom gives us excellent advice to help us deal and cope throughout the time given to us in living out our lives. He says the following:

“Whether you eat, whether you drink, whether you do some other thing, do all for the glory of God” [1 Cor. 10:31]. If we pray, if we fast, if we accuse, if we pardon, if we praise, if we censure, if we enter, if we exit, if we sell, if we buy, if we are silent, if we converse, if we do any thing else whatsoever, let us do all for the glory of God, and if something be not for the glory of God, neither let it be done, nor be spoken by us; but in place of a great staff, in place of arms and safeguard, in place of unspeakable treasures, wherever we might be, let us carry around this word with us, having inscribed it upon our understanding, so that doing and speaking and trafficking all things for the glory of God, we shall obtain the glory that is from him both in this world and after the journey here [i.e. after this life]. “For those that glorified me”, he says, “I will glorify” [1 Sam 2:30; (1 Reg. 2.30 LXX)]. Not therefore with words, but also through deeds let us glorify him continually with Christ our God, because all glory befits him, honor and worship, now and always unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Our goal, ideally, is to foster and develop a culture of gratitude in our lives. Gratitude brings a very deep feeling of happiness in our lives, a sense of satisfaction and brightness in our hearts that cannot be easily taken away from us. But, on the other hand, being happy does not necessarily mean that we will have gratitude. For when we are happy and everything goes our way, we forget that we need the Presence of God in our lives. Self sufficiency is not a trait that characterizes a Christian.

When we have gratitude towards God, we will have the tendency not to ever forget Him. When we show gratitude to one another, we brighten up each others’ day and encourage each other that we each have a purpose in life and that we are valued. When we extend the joy of gratitude to others, we share in the joy that God provides us, something that leaves us feeling fulfilled. When we do not possess gratitude, we have a tendency to grumble, complain and be judgmental toward one another. Without gratitude, there is no appreciation of one another and the blessings that surround us daily.

So what are you grateful for? Are you grateful to God for His Love, Mercy and Glory for having given us the gift of salvation? Are you grateful for what God has provided for you, like food on the table, good health, every breath you take, family, friends, etc.? Contemplate what those things are for you that you have gratitude for. Do they bring you a sense of joy and satisfaction?

We have many exciting events coming up in our parish community in 2020. Early on, we have our Epiphany Celebrations. Our newly consecrated Archbishop Elpidophoros of America will be with us for an historic visit. Did you know that it has been a little over 29 years since Archbishop Iakovos, of blessed memory, came for our Cathedral’s Consecration? That’s the last time an Archbishop has come to Hawaii! This is huge! Our Dancers and Youth Choir are getting ready for excellent performances at FDF. Great Lent and Pascha are coming up soon, and all the other Festal Celebrations throughout the year.

I want you all to know that I am grateful to all of you for being uniquely who you are! I wish all of you God’s Grace and Help in all your life’s challenges throughout this coming 2020 year. Be thankful to God in all your life’s dynamics and challenges. For through our struggles we come to realize that God is an integral and crucial part of our lives.

With Love in Christ,

+Fr. Alexander