“One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4
There is an old time song which included this lyric: “Everything old is new again.” This is a concept that is witnessed to in our Holy Orthodox Church each and every year. On August 31/September 13, the old year ends, and on September 1/14, a new liturgical year begins! In many ways, the new year is just like the one that has passed, with perhaps a few new additions. But the same days will occur again: birthdays, anniversaries, fasting seasons, feasts, week days and weekends, and so forth. To some people, this may seem tedious, especially when it comes to Church celebrations. This is apparently evident, since so few of our faithful take the time or make the effort to participate in them by attending the vespers and the Divine Liturgy, even if they are quite able to do so. Some may dismiss this year’s celebrations because they commemorated them last year and at other times in the past. Is it really necessary to remember them again this year, and each and every year? I am certain that if your birthday were forgotten this year that your feelings might be a little hurt and offended.
Each year is new and is blessed by God as a new and exciting opportunity to begin fresh, to make up for what we were lacking in the past year. Every year we again commemorate the marvelous works of God that He has performed for us, His children. What was old and gone by, and maybe even forgotten, is renewed and relived and celebrated again; it is important and exhilarating to recall all of the beautiful events in the life our Lord Jesus Christ and His Mother, the most blessed and Ever-virgin Mary, the Theotokos. This is a concrete way of passing the Faith on to future generations, as the Psalmist declares: “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty works.” What better way to proclaim them than to celebrate them in within the Church and in our homes! Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents celebrated these special days with much fervor and desire; they looked forward to them, and they used them to teach their children the faith of their fathers. They make the faith come to life. They are not dull, lifeless, and meaningless stories only to be read occasionally. They are meant to be uplifting, alive, and educational, over and over again!
The Hebrew people were instructed by God to keep the memory of all the mighty works that He had done for them, not merely by passively reading about them and telling stories of them, but by actively and concretely celebrating them, which made them come to life once again. Some early Church Fathers interpreted “Your works” of the Psalmist as the Incarnation of the Son of God, and the “generation” as the Church. Now that salvation has been accomplished, is it not even more appropriate to declare these events of the New Covenant to the world and to future generations? These Biblical and apocryphal occurrences have inspired our theology, our reckoning of time, our iconography, our divine worship, our hymnography, our traditions, in essence, every aspect of our Faith. We must not neglect them! Surely, you will celebrate Pascha and the Nativity, but there is so much more richness, spiritual richness, to be gained by observing the rest of the feasts and fasts with the same dedication. Once again I encourage you to make good use of the year that is beginning and resolve to incorporate each day, each special day, in your personal life. Even if you feel there is not enough time in your busy schedules, when you make the time, you will be amply rewarded.