What Is Your New Year’s Resolution?

As we cross into a New Year of time and opportunity, we also cross into the Kingdom of Heaven.

I am writing these words as I am still recovering from emergency back surgery. Being unable to control my own environment leaves me more stressed than before! How do you rest when you do not know how? Assigning control to others takes confidence in them to deliver your most immediate needs. The only time I am able to truly do nothing is during my prayerful time. Only then does the peace and calmness of prayer bring about a magical moment that all is well. I am reminded that I am part of a loving, blessed community.

My wish, to my biological family and to my spiritual family, is to welcome every day with joy even if sometimes it brings you new pain. Keep in touch, not only during special occasions, but when there are no occasions. Keep connected to your church community — it is the greatest of God’s gifts.

Our church was commissioned by Christ and built by your parents and grandparents. Even though our society is always at odds, the church nourishes us with the gifts of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit; love, compassion, patience. Our church helps us with renewal, forgiveness, reconciliation and most important of all, participating in heaven while we are still living on earth. The church teaches us not only to reconcile, but to give back. It is the most stabilizing and important institution to carry future generations, assuring the future will welcome a new family through marriage, or a new child through baptism. Seeing them run around the church singing Holy God, Koudosen an lah, not yet knowing the extent of the deep relationship between us and the Lord is edifying and inspiring. The church is the only secure and safe ship that will wipe away every tear, assuring you that you are not alone. Tell your children about your family’s journey so they can pass it on to their children.

The greatest resolution one can make is to devote themselves to the development of healthy children which can only be done with a healthy family that produces and grows within the church community of faith. I have personally failed on keeping many of my resolutions in the past, such as losing weight, growing hair or getting taller, as God was saying to me, “Stop making these resolutions on your own.” “Remember, I made and created you from your mother’s womb to be a light, to love and to be wise enough to follow the stars.”

Life is a journey. Leave your bad attitude and whatever is the cause of your misery behind you. You cannot mix bad wine with good wine. Life is difficult, unexplained and often cruel, and full of mystery, but as the Lord said, “I am with you and shall take you there if you walk with me.” St. Paul of Damascus said, “There are 3 kinds of people, those who have a flood within them, but no ark; those who have both a flood and an ark, but are not in the ark; and those who in the flood have an ark and stay in it.”

Our task, as Orthodox Christians, is to excel, to invent, to participate, to become the scientist, the physician, or the entrepreneur that society depends upon. We are people who trust and believe that God is in fact in our midst, no matter what is going on around us. He dwells within us no matter what the outward circumstances are. Hope remains in Him, His name is Emanuel.

The greatest resolution you can make is to recommit to what is noble – our Holy Orthodox Church.

My wife Nouhad and I wish you all a healthy and very Happy New Year.

Fr. George Shalhoub

About Fr. George Shalhoub

Fr. George Shalhoub was born in Hama Syria to Emily and George Shalhoub, the youngest of 7 children. At the age of 12, he was sent to the Balamand Monastery in Lebanon. Fr. George was ordained a deacon in the Cathedral of the Patriarchate in Damascus, Syria. In 1971, he was sent to the United States. Fr. George is married to Nouhad (Ghareeb) and they have 4 children Lila Zogaib-Lippert and Cameron Lippert with children Andrew and Addison Zogaib and Cameron Lippert, Jason and Andrew Zogaib, Drs. Alex and Melissa Shalhoub with children Olivia, Amira and Nora Shalhoub, Alexa and Marc Nassif with children Sophia and Genevieve and Christa Shalhoub. Fr. George received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Eastern Michigan University in sociology and psychology, a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from St. John’s Provincial Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Pastoral Counseling from the Graduate Theological Foundation. Fr. Shalhoub is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Madonna University and a faculty member of the Antiochian House of Studies. He was appointed by Governor Engler of Michigan to serve on the Mental Health Advisory Board and by Governor Granholm to the commission on Arab and Chaldean American Affairs. Fr. Shalhoub was a Teacher of the Year at Madonna University and gave the Commencement Address to Schoolcraft College’s graduating class of 2001. Under his pastoral leadership, Fr. George and a handful of parishioners started St. Mary’s mission in 1972. In 1976, they moved into their new church and in 1990, along with the parishioners, Parish Council, Building Committee, Ladies Society, and the Youth, St. Mary’s was able to build a Cultural Center. Finally, in 2002, St. Mary’s moved into its permanent house of worship, The Basilica of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church where Metropolitan PHILIP proclaimed it, “A new church for a new century.”

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