The New Year is a civic holiday that precedes the great feast of the Nativity of our Lord by only a few days. It is a magical time for many, and still one of the most beloved holidays in our part of the world. Santa is its hero. The family meal, the Christmas tree, presents and warm greetings are its most admired attributes. Its spirit of love, hope and anticipation inspire many hearts. In many respects, it gives us a foretaste of the great joy of the Nativity of Christ and the miracles it brings.
The New Year is the time to give love. Love overflows our hearts in the company of our extended family and close friends. We celebrate love by sharing the beautiful moments we had together, and by telling our loved ones how much they mean to us. We express our love by learning to be more gentle and forgiving and coming to like each other even more as time goes by.
The New Year is a celebration of hope. We say good-bye to our past regrets and boldly embrace the future. We make our New Year resolutions - promising ourselves to become better people and develop our potential. Even when we do not keep them, we still grow by learning our lessons and trying harder in the next year.
The New Year is still celebrated at the Convent, even though it is a secular holiday. On this day, we remember Christ’s promise of eternal life in His Kingdom. To us, it is a sobering reminder: our earthly lives are brief and fleeting in eternity. Years and decades on earth seem like seconds and minutes. Yet the unfinished work before us is enormous. Are we going to have enough time to reconsider our lives, repent and change our ways, mend fences and make peace with our enemies before we depart and cannot change anything?
We celebrate the New Year by an overnight liturgy. Just like Christ had redeemed His people, we redeem the precious gift of time. We pray with joy and hope. We praise the Lord for all the precious moments that teach us to emulate His love in our earthly lives and beyond. We thank Him for the minutes and hours with close friends and relations and for the warmth, trust and affection that have built up over many years in the families of our brethren. Blessed are your bright mornings and romantic evenings, and the time you felt young at heart as you were playing with your children. We pray for the consolation of the crying and reassurance of the fearful. We pray for you at your moments of strength and weakness, of loss and grief, and of overcoming.
The great book of time keeps highlights of our lives, our most important dates and memories. It is said that the New Year is the time when our past and future meet at present. There is great wisdom in this saying. It teaches that we use our time well when we treat each present moment as the most crucial to our lives; when we see the person in front of us as the most important, and when we do for that person all we can at this very moment.
With great hope, delight and inspiration, we offer you our warmest greetings and heartfelt congratulations this New Year. May this year be to you like an open book, and may you live fully every page of it by touching people’s lives each day!
As the feast day of Saint Vladimir the Great of Kiev is approaching, we are preparing to sing at the all-night vigil and the Divine Liturgy the hymns glorifying his great feat and his apostolic ministry in this part of the world.