by Fr. John Reeves
It’s funny how the Church New Year and the new school year always go together. Refreshed from summer’s more relaxing pace, we double down and get back to work, to school, and yes, begin anew the Church’s observance of the great acts of God in human history for our salvation.
As St Peter wrote: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)
This is exactly the point with our liturgical observances. Each day and month has a specific meaning. We celebrate something that happened. Just as July 4 is a national celebration for Americans of something that happened, so too are our feasts. There may be other celebrations, Earth Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Mother’s and Father’s Days—which are observances of concepts but not specific events. Christian holy days, however, celebrate God’s action in our midst in and through the lives of His Saints. This is why observing Holy Days is critical to full comprehension, enjoyment and fulfillment of our faith as Orthodox Christians.
So ask this question: If I’m willing to observe national days, why do I find it difficult to observe Holy Days? Is it because some national observances are bank holidays, but I’ve got to juggle my calendar to fit Holy Days into my life? Is it because I’ve never made the connection about sanctifying the time which God has given me? Is it because I’ve merely succumbed to secularism, willing to surrender myself to its demands rather than God’s blessings? Or, is it that I’ve just gotten a bit lazy? Whatever, this New Church Year, make a resolution. Observe the Great Feasts at a minimum. Attend Vespers at least. Prepare for Holy Communion at Liturgy. I can guarantee, no matter the adjustments, sacrifices or other challenges that might come our way, a year lived “in sync” with God’s mighty works in human history will open our eyes more and more to His mighty works in our own lives, day by day by day. After all, this is why we have a Church calendar in addition to a secular one. This is why it starts over annually. And here’s the good news, we can, too!