Saturday, September 13, 2014

Prayers for God’s blessing upon us at the Church New Year

icxc4.jpgToday, the Holy Church today celebrates the new year. It does this with prayer.
Who does not desire health, prosperity, peace, and a good life? All these things come from God, so He is the one we must ask for them:

O unoriginate Word and Son, Who is united with the Holy Spirit, Creator and Fashioner of all things visible and invisible: bless Thou the crown of the year, preserving the multitude of the Orthodox in peace, through the prayers of the Theotokos and of all Thy saints.
Stikhira at “Lord I have cried”.

God is, indeed, the one who gives everything to all, regardless of whether men appreciate this fact or not:

God belongs to all free beings. He is the life of all, the salvation of all - faithful and unfaithful, just and unjust, pious and impious, passionate and dispassionate, monks and seculars, wise and simple, healthy and sick, young and old — just as the diffusion of light, the sight of the sun, and the changes of the weather are for all alike; ‘for there is no respect of persons with God’.
St John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent

All men live and are warmed by rays of the spiritual Sun - God. They all enjoy various blessings, which some thank God for. Others again appear to think blessings are their “human right”. The Church teaches us that God is the source of blessings, and that He can withdraw these from us at anytime - whether due to our ingratitude, or to test us, or even to glorify us.

If all things have been made by God and for His sake, then God is better than what has been made by Him. The one who forsakes the greater and is engrossed in inferior things shows that he prefers the things made by God to God Himself.
St Maximos the Confessor: 400 Chapters on Love I:6

Therefore, the Christian must remember that spiritual blessings - faith and virtue - are higher than all earthly things. Only spiritual goods will help us unite us with the Creator, and only these blessings can last us all the way to eternal life. We reach eternal life with God by the path of Christian life in the body on earth. The Church prays that we make a new-years’ resolution to set out on the spiritual path:

O Master, God of all things, lead through this year which beginneth those who adorn themselves with divinely beautiful spiritual works, and who hymn Thee with faith.
Canon, ode 3.

O ye Orthodox people who now begin the year, let us set a beginning to our hymns to Christ Who reigneth over the everlasting Kingdom; and let us piously chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!
Canon, ode 7.

Nevertheless, the Church, our Mother, knows that Her children often go astray. She calls out to the Mother of God to help us sinners:

To the path of repentance guide us who are ever inclined toward evil and trackless places, and who anger our all-good Lord, O blessed Mary who knewest not wedlock, thou refuge of despairing men and habitation of God.
Sedalen

Through the prayers of the Most-Holy Mother of God, of St Symeon the Stylite and his mother, Martha, of the 40 women martyrs and all the Saints, may the coming year be blessed with spiritual goods for us all!

Read also the edifying spiritual periodical in English from the Convent of the Holy Angels, Greece.

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