2020 is almost over. It has been a very hard year for so many of us because of the coronavirus. At times, we’ve all felt scared, sad, and maybe even angry.
Regardless of all the hardships, we must always remember that God has been with us every day, as the Gospel says, “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not” (Luke 12:7)
This is why, this year, our Convent will hold a special Divine Liturgy and prayer service at night on the 1st of January to pray to God for the whole world this New Year!
New Year is the biggest civil celebration in all post-Soviet countries, including Belarus. This is the day when children find presents brought by Ded Moroz (Russian Santa Claus) under the Christmas tree.
This is also the day when most non-religious families gather together to have a huge family dinner late at night, right before midnight. People normally celebrate and eat all night long, which is why the 1st of January is a national holiday and no one has to go to work or school.
Most celebrations continue on the 1st of January. People eat the leftovers, go downtown to see the biggest Christmas tree in Minsk, and watch numerous entertaining TV shows and concerts.
It may sound fun. However, Christians tend to celebrate the New Year in a different way.
As Christians, we firmly believe that prayer is one of the most important things to do daily. Praying means talking to God, talking personally to the Creator of all. Church prayer services are even more special because people gather to praise the Lord together.
Most Christians here in Belarus like to spend some time on the 31st of December in prayer, whether at home or at church. Orthodox churches normally conduct special prayer services so that the faithful can come in and pray for the New Year. It is mostly crucial now when people all around the world are going through a really hard time with the pandemic.
Saint Elisabeth Convent is one of the few monasteries and churches in Belarus that holds a Divine Liturgy service right at midnight on the 1st of January each year. It is such an important service for the sisters and for all the parishioners of our Convent.
The service starts with a special New Year moleben (also called a service of Thanksgiving at the New Year), followed by the Hours and the Divine Liturgy. This year we will make sure to pray for the whole world, asking God:
“That Thou wilt bless the crown of the coming year with Thy bounty, and quench the flames of discord, enmity and strife; that Thou wilt give us peace, perseverance, sincere love, and a virtuous disposition; we beg Thee, Lord, hear us and have mercy.”
We see praying for people as part of our ministry and we do believe in the power of a sincere prayer! This is why we would like to pray for you and your loved ones at our special New Year prayer service!
Whatever happened in 2020, it is important that you find even the smallest things to be thankful for. We must all remember not to be afraid and welcome the New Year with faith, hope, and love, as it is written in the New Testament:
“And now these three remain faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Let us try to not forget that.
Happy New Year and God bless!
On the feast of the Elevation of the Cross – celebrated on 27 (14) September – we commemorate the miraculous finding of the true cross of Jesus Christ on which He was martyred for our salvation.