Believe me, it is not easy for us, the priests of God Most High (Hebrews 7:1). We always have to sail against the current, against the wind and against the mainstream.
For example: here in the Western World exists an insane pre-Christmas shopping frenzy. It has been already widely accepted that what surrounds Christmas has nothing to do with it; it even less relates to God
Meanwhile in Serbia, the fuss about the “wild night”, the “Eve” is in full swing. As if poor people have the power to decide whether to wait or not wait for that “new” year. Like if there wasn’t a proper welcome, it could not come; the time would stop and people would not know what to do with it
Depleted and afflicted country; leaders of the humiliated nation do not allow an alternative to their pro-European craze and they want to convince the people that things will start getting better on their own if only somehow we could crawl over to that Europe. According to many relentless indicators, it is common knowledge that we are knocking on the door of the “third world” countries. We are in for becoming Africa. And even in a situation like that, funds are found for nonsense and indecencies, parades and masquerades, even for pyrotechnics of some sort and bright lights so that the “wild night” could be welcomed in a way they think is appropriate
As it happens, we followed our relative on a path filled with grief as she was dragged from pillar to post through Belgrade hospitals. There was a shortage of everything everywhere.
Contrary to the general craze, we, the priests, have to remind people to be sober
Nobody opposes, and no one should oppose, joy and celebration now and then, when there is a reason for celebration, but with decency and good taste
Our perception of time is very subjective. The passing of the time and its ending – which is inevitably getting closer – God has kept in His power. Zarko Lausevic has showed us recently that a day can be longer than a year
We, the Serbs, truly are a “wonder of the world”, in many ways. We are unique, I don’t want to say torn, or even worse, schizophrenic with celebrating two new years. I don’t understand welcoming and celebrating so-called “Serbian New Year”, not to mention foolishness and boisterous festivities for the first one to come, the “calendar” one. Especially since this “calendar” one falls right before our Christmas, in days when the church established the lent. And instead of putting an effort to respectfully and decently welcome God, our Lord who incarnated for us, and like little God “Božić” came down to us, His sinful children, to be insulted, spat on, and crucified, we indulge in those boisterous festivities. We were told, ” the Christmas Lent was established so that we could, in the days that precede the day when Christ was born, purge ourselves through repentance, prayer, and fast in order to welcome God’s Son in awe and with pure heart, soul and body.” (SPC website
Fasting or not, should we really revel in that “New Year” craze? Does it ever occur to those drunken and fattened revellers of the “New Year” that with every welcome of the “wild night” they drink to their own nullity and mortality? Abba Dorotheus said: “We often forget God and the moment of our death, while we should know: the trees that will be used for our coffin have been growing for a long time”. If they didn’t push away the thought of their own death, I believe they would choke on that piece of pork and that sip of brandy
Whether they are conscious of it or, as it seems, insensate to it, the time is merciless. With every tick, the hand of the clock is reminding us that our time on Earth is crumbling away. We do not know when-and it could be any moment- the death could tap us on the shoulder and take us in its frigid hand and lead us to the grave. “What is your life?” Saint Apostle James asked us, “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14
Human life isn’t and it shouldn’t be anything else than the preparation for that crucial moment. I remember great shemamonk of Peć, father Dionisije. He was an expert in framing icons. On each framed icon he would add the words: “Time flies – the eternity is near”. He even used to greet as well as dismiss everyone with these wise words
Everyone who at least once in their lives buried someone, should know and should accept that: “we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow.” (Job 8:9). With great sorrow I remember people and friends that I saw among the living only 365 days ago, which are now covered with black soil. Next year, someone will remember some of us, of yesterday
Knowing all that, a wise man can find very little reason for foolishness. “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am. Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely a man goes about as a shadow!” (Psalm 39: 4-6) “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field”, a wise king David told us, “for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” (Psalm 103:15-16) That’s why we should be careful how we live, “not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish”, warns us Saint Apostle Paul, “but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-16
Therefore, as the wise Solomon teaches us, sorrow can sometimes be better than joy, “for when a face is sad the heart is made better.” (Ecclesiastes 7:3) And Apostle Paul explains the words of this wise man of the Old Testament when he says: “for godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10
New Year’s binge and revelry – it is well known – is a pagan tradition. “New Year originates in many pagan traditions of the Ancient Rome. A holiday dedicated to the god Janus was celebrated on January 1. Even the name of the month comes from the name of this god.” (Sve u pričama biva website) And as Apostle Paul warned the Christians of his time by referring to the prophet from the Old Testament, he also warns us to distance from the pagan traditions and to not involve with the impure. “For the time that is past suffices”, says Apostle Peter “for doing what the Gentiles want to do living in sensualities, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.” (1 Peter 4:2-3
If we don’t want to listen to the wise men from the Old Testament or to Christ’s Apostles, and if we had it enough with the priests’ preaching, then let’s listen to the legend Roy Clark, who was given the rare opportunity to indulge in life, and even though late, however, sober, warns us to sober up. Here’s what he says:
“Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue.
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game,
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame.
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I’d always built to last on weak and shifting sand.
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of the day
And only now I see how the years ran away.
Yesterday when I was young
So many happy songs were waiting to be sung,
So many wild pleasures lay in store for me
And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see.
I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out,
I never stopped to think what life was all about
And every conversation I can now recall
Concerned itself with me and nothing else at all.
Yesterday the moon was blue
And every crazy day brought something new to do.
I used my magic age as if it were a wand
And never saw the waste and emptiness beyond.
The game of love I played with arrogance and pride
And every flame I lit too quickly, quickly died.
The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away
And only I am left on stage to end the play.
There are so many songs in me that won’t be sung,
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue.
The time has come for me to pay for
Yesterday when I was young.” (Sve u pričama biva website)
With our indulgence into the New Year’s revelry that only brings headaches, we will not solve anything let alone postpone what cannot be postponed. Whether we want to accept it or not “Lord is near”, (Philippians 4:5). And if we cannot slow down the time or delay our departure from this world, then the succession of days and years should motivate us to such numbering the days “so that we may get the heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12
“If you want to benefit from the beginning of the year, new month, or new day, says St. John Chrysostom, then do the following: thank God for He had kept you alive till that day, calm your heart, look back at the time of your life and tell yourself: days go by, years too, we have passed a large portion of our path and what good have we done
Are we going to leave with nothing, with no good deeds? The Judgement is at the doorstep, the rest of our days are closer to the old age. That’s how you should think at the beginning of each day; when the years succeed one another, think of the new day, so your time is not wasted.” ( Sve u pričama biva website)