How can we begin the new year with a focus on Christ?

Saint Sophia Cathedral
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Topic of the Week: Beginning of the Church Year (Commemorated September 1st) How can we begin the new year with a focus on Christ?

“Do you know why the first day of September marks the beginning of the Church year? We are accustomed to think of January 1st as the beginning of the year. But the tradition of computing the start of a new year with autumn was common to the lands of the Bible and to all the lands around the Mediterranean. The summer harvest was at an end, the crops were stored, and people prepared for a new agricultural cycle. It was an appropriate time to begin a new year.”

Christ our GodYour kingdom is an everlasting one and Your lordship is over all.

You have made all things with wisdom and have established proper times and seasons for our lives.
We give thanks to You in all circumstances and for all things.
Lord, bless the beginning of our Church year with Your goodness.
Grant that this liturgical year be for all of us a year of grace.
Make us worthy with purity of heart always to praise youLordglory to You! “

Matins Hymn, September 1st

Adult/Family – 

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 ChurchHere are a few ideas to get you started.”

Find an Orthodox prayer for the new school year here and pray it for your child during your family prayer time. Your child will begin the school year with the beautiful blessing of prayer to God from the hearts of their parents.

Preschool/Elementary –

Did you know that the church marks important events that occurred in its life so that we can remember to celebrate them every year? You can make a special calendar to hang up in your home so that your family can keep track of these special days throughout the year and celebrate them together.


Festal Icon Timeline

Read these instructions on how to make this festal timeline for your home.

This source has suggestions for activities to celebrate each one.

Middle School –

  • Creator of creation all and its Savior and Master, by your authority You fixed times and annual seasons. Therefore we pray You, O loving Lord, that You crown the coming yearly cycle with blessings of goodness, and keep Your people in lasting peace, free of harm and injury, we entreat You, by Your Mother’s all-holy prayers and those of holy Angels. – Theotokion from Matins, September 1st

In the services for September 1st, we pray for the Lord to “crown the coming yearly cycle with blessings of goodness.” Do you know that in addition to Pascha the church has a yearly cycle of 12 feasts established by the church fathers? Do you know what they are and when they are? Does your family make a point to celebrate them? Write them on your calendar now so you won’t miss any – the first one is the Nativity of the Theotokos on September 8th. You can find all the 12 great feasts here, with links to a source that has activities for you to do with your family to celebrate each one. Make a point this year to observe the church’s yearly cycle of feasts.

High School –

One thing we can do to start off the new year is to create spiritual goals and build on some practices that we are already doing or start new ones that we have not been doing. Prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and study are areas you can concentrate on.

Do you have a prayer rule? Read about them here and with the help of the priest and/your parents find one to follow.

Try to start a practice of regular spiritual reading. Choose a spiritual book to read each month, here are some suggestions:

How to Live a Holy Life


Heroes for Truth: The Orthodox Church Through the Ages,Vol I

Read one or more of these Facebook Orthodox daily spiritual quote accounts:

A Message from Maria Spanos

I am passionate about our Orthodox Christian faith and seek to help others learn as much as they can about it. My purpose here is to share online resources that help strengthen our relationship with Christ and bind us closer to His Church. I believe they are invaluable in learning about our precious Orthodox Tradition, and are a great aid for teaching family members, friends and others about Orthodoxy. ~Maria

Two of my favorite quotes:

“A true Christian behaves in this life so that it may be a preparation for the future one and not only a life here below. In his actions, he does not think what will be said of him here but of what will be said there in heaven; he represents to himself that he is always in the presence of God, of the angels and all the saints, and remembers that someday they will bear witness of his thoughts, words, and deeds.”  — Saint John of Kronstadt


Of all the holy works, the education of children is the most holy.”
— St. Theophan the Recluse