Are you ready for the new year? I don’t mean 2019–I mean the new Church year!
In the Orthodox Church, our liturgical new year begins on September 1st. At the beginning of a new year, we pray for God’s blessing, give thanks for all things, and enter into the year with a renewed zeal for the things of the Lord.
Practically speaking, however, how do we do this? How can we begin the new year with a focus on Christ and his Church? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Ways to Start the Church New Year Off Right
1. Create Spiritual Goals
One nice way to begin the new year is by creating some spiritual goals for yourself and your family. This should always be done under the guidance of your priest or spiritual father, who knows you and your family situation intimately.
There are often four areas that Orthodox Christians focus on: prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and study.
You may decide to pray the Akathist to the Mother of God Nurturer of Children each week. Or, maybe you want to create a binder with fasting recipes. Perhaps you’ll decide to volunteer as a family at a local charity. Or, you might choose to read one spiritual book each month. Whatever your goal may be, this can be a powerful way to begin the new year.
2. Clean Out the House
One place to begin when making a fresh start is with the physical home. Think of it as “spring cleaning” for the fall.
You can focus especially on the tasks of your home that support your spiritual life, if you’d like, such as:
-tidying up your icon corner
-organizing bookshelves with spiritual books
-taking inventory of items you need (more incense, a new children’s Bible that is age appropriate for your kids, a family prayer book, etc.)
-cleaning cross necklaces
This could also be a good time to collect unused or outgrown items and donate them to a charity. Make it a family project by having each child look through their collection of toys or books and selecting items to give away. Start the new year off with less clutter!
3. Establish Routines
Another way to create a fresh start with the new liturgical year is by establishing spiritual routines in your home. I would encourage you to start small and focus on getting one routine in place before beginning another. It can be easy, especially for new converts, to try to implement several new spiritual routines in the family life at once. This can often lead to burnout, frustration, and even resentment.
Routines to focus on could include: praying evening prayers, reading a children’s Bible together each night, reading or listening to the story of the saint of the day, attending Vespers, or attending feast day liturgies.
4. Add Feast Days to the Family Calendar
One simple yet profound way to tie together the liturgical life of the Church and the day-to-day life of the family is to include Feast Days on the family calendar.
Go through all of the paper calendars in the house and write in the Feast Days. If the Fourth of July is on the calendar, shouldn’t the Feast of the Transfiguration be also?
If your family uses digital calendars, you can add Feast Days and fasting periods on those as well. In addition, if older children have planners for school, they can include the Church calendar on those too.
These simple activities can profoundly, and positively, impact the way that your family begins the new Church year.
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Each chapter contains:
- A brief explanation of the feast or fast
- Ideas to help you celebrate as a family
- Activities for older children
- Activities for younger children
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How do you start off the Church new year?