Beginning of a New Year
By: H.H. Pope Shenouda III
If there is a contest to choose from all the years of your lives, which one of them will be the best? Do not make yourself tired to search the past, but I wish that the New Year will be the best, and to be the ideal year.
May this coming New Year be the most acceptable before God and men. Let us remind ourselves with these words before the beginning of every New Year. Some people train themselves to have an ideal day to spend in the best spiritual and social manner. So, let us have an ideal year in which every day and every hour is ideal.
May God, blessed be His name, start with us this New Year. May He will be the first one to talk to, at the coming New Year, so that He may bless it. At midnight of December 31, a year will end and a new one will start. How nice it is to start the first hour of it with God, to thank Him for giving us a New Year, and to ask Him the forgiveness for all our sins in the last year. We should ask Him to bless us and our families, our beloved ones, our society, our country, and the whole world. We should present our wishes for the new year to God because He is the only One who is able to fulfill them.
First of all, we should give thanks to God for all the good things He made for us, and our loved ones and the others, because there is no gift without growth but the one without giving thanks. I’m saying this because the majority asks a lot, while only few give thanks! Giving thanks should precede asking.
Let us give thanks to God for He extended our life to this hour, and let us remember all His wonderful acts, which are many, that He made for us, one by one. We don’t want to let the Angles wonder and say, “These people are unfaithful, because God gave them a lot, while they are unthankful and they are still asking unceasingly for other things.”
The coming New Year is like a white sheet of paper in our life, nothing is written on it. I’m wondering, what will we write on this page of our life? Will we please God in this coming year? Will we fulfill His will to be in a better way than the past? Will every minute of the coming year be good, fruitful and blessed, for us and others?
Will we care about every minute that will pass from our life? Will we consider every hour of our life precious, and use them only to do good deeds worthy of that life we have? Will we consider ourselves only stewards on this life we live? Our life is not our own, but rather owned by God who gave it to us as a gift, and we received it as stewards, and we’ll give an account of it before Him...
The time that is full of good deeds is the only time counted in our life. It is considered the “living time” of this life, while the time that is not used for good is considered “dead time”. It is not counted in our life, and it will lead to other dead time.
So, let me ask you a question, “how long is the time that was lost from your life and is not counted for you? And how long is the fruitful and counted time in your life?
How many years is the real age of your life on earth?
Reflect back on your life, and look for how many hours of your age were spent in good acts? And how many hours were not?
How many hours did we spend with God? And how many hours away from Him?
Let us be honest with ourselves to answer this: How long is the time, which was for us? And that which was against us?
At this point, I wonder about those who look for a way to kill (waste) the time!
This, who kills the time, kills his/her life, because life is time. This, who looks for a method to spend his/her time in a useless way, but just to not be bored, is the type of person who does not feel that his/her life is valuable. He doesn’t have an objective for his life. His life is cheap because his time is cheap, so he is trying to get rid of this cheap time by any mean.
At the same time, there are many people who every minute of their lives has a great value. And sometimes they need extra time, because their objectives are many, compared to their insufficient time.
On the other hand, there are a lot of heroes worldwide whose lives were short but precious. And there are many that made use of their lives seriously and they achieved early growth. And others who lived an ideal life, offered an example of the useful and successful person, and fulfilled great objectives. They were good examples and role models to follow. Their lives were evaluated by their effectiveness, not by their lengths, and their effectiveness was marvelous. Moreover, just one of the achievements of these great people could be recorded in history with big letters. It is impossible to measure these timeless achievements with the consumed time to fulfill them, but only by their value to many generations to come. As an example, the world still benefits from any ideas or helpful invention, even after the departure of their writers or inventors. The time consumed by these people was really a blessing for all mankind.
Truly, the value of time differs in breadth and width from one to the other. Few hours from the life of a certain person can be longer and more effective than the whole life of another person. This can be either in good or evil, whether for the benefit or the harm of the others…
Can you consider your time as your friend or your enemy? Is it for you or against you? Is it to gain life or to loose it? Do you grow up in it, spiritually and educationally, or do you go back? Ask yourself.
Did it ever happen to you that at one time you wished that one day of your life would have not happened? Because all the problems of your life are the consequences of that day in which you lost your life by a certain act…!
On the other hand, did you ever have another time that had a very nice effect on your life, and the life of others too?
There are many persons who were considered a source of blessing for their generation, to the extent that others could say, “We lived during the era of that man.” Such a person made his generation famous. Do you believe that you are the reason that others will be happy that they lived during your time, and dealt with you and were affected by you?
Does your life have an influence on your generation? Or at least on a small circle: in a certain city, or in certain work environment? Does your presence have an influence, effect, and blessing? Did your life affect others? Or did no one of your generation feel your presence?
Sometimes, we find certain eras called after someone. This could be found in different fields. For example: we find Shakespeare’s era in the English Literature, Napoleon’s era in politics, Socrates’ and Plato’s era in Philosophy, or Beethoven in music and Michael Anglo in art, etc… Each one of them had a characteristic age and work, that affected his generation to the extent that his era was called after him. He could affect his generation or at least one character of it. Therefore, many people do not know the name of the Pope of Rome at the time of Michael Anglo, and they may call him the Pope of Michael Anglo’s era.
Others may live as if they did not exist! They spent a period on earth, could be many years, as if they did not live! Because their generation did not benefit from their existence, or because they did not have any influence, in their small circle in which they lived.
Their time was fruitless, and they didn’t make use of it for their benefit, or for the benefit of others. So, their life became empty, that history didn’t feel their existence neither did the heaven.
But for you, be careful to avoid this fate. Put in consideration, at the beginning of this year that your life should be useful.
At the beginning of a New Year, everyone should come to himself to judge it.
Judge yourself: what did you do? What should you do? Did you have anything in your life that needs correction, or change? Are there certain virtues lacking in your life that you need to gain? And how can you gain them?
Many can be busy by preparing the New Year program, e.g. meeting, shopping, care, etc… This will not give them any opportunity at all to come back to themselves. May be they will hear talks about the importance of judging yourself, without having the chance to do so, a chance to know where they are, and what they should do to be in a better situation.
The New Year is not just a new year in the calendar. It should be new in our life, in our evaluation of our life, and in our correction of our life.
Moving from one year to another is not the important thing, because this is a natural transfer that needs no effort at all from us. But the important thing is to have a sitting with yourself with complete honesty to put a plan for the future. So that we may have practical steps and a life plan in all our actions and relationships with God, the self, and others. I say this because most people live a busy life in which they don’t know where they stand and how they are moving and to where. They are moving routinely from one day to the next without any plan or destination. They are living unaware of their spirituality and their eternity.
The beginning of a new year is a good opportunity to sit with yourself. Judge yourself very accurately, and with a clear conscience, and without any partiality. Condemn yourself for every sin you have committed, and rise from where you fell. Remember the saying of that spiritual father who said, “My brother, condemn yourself before you get condemn by others”
Judge yourself for the repeating sins in your life that are becoming a habit to you. Don’t try to give excuses to yourself. Rather, try to find a remedy so that you don’t sin anymore. You know yourself very well, and you know your weaknesses, and the reasons for you fall. You will accept rebuke and correction from yourself, so do it at the beginning of this new year.
Try to channel all your energy in the right way for the good, and to gain new capabilities, that you may lack now. Plan to grow always in your knowledge, and dispensation, and in your character in general. You should be successful in your life continually. Pay attention for the purity of your heart, and don’t let your life be a continuous struggle with evil, but rather let your life be steadfast in good, growing in it. In all of that, always turn to prayer so that you may receive help from God to support you in every good deed.
Let’s pray that this year may be a year of peace, and to avoid war, persecution, famines, pestilences, moral disintegration, and all other evils… We ask God that He may intervene with His grace, power, and goodness, having mercy on the world, preparing for it what is good.
Happy New Year to All.