An Eternal Circle of Reciprocal Thanks

a stained glass window of the saint

November 13/26, St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople

American Thanksgiving Day

Despair is a temptation when life loses its purpose and the threat of an untimely death threatens to shorten that purposeless existence. As the worldwide coronavirus continues to rage with the possible hope for medical relief still months away, it is difficult to find cause to give thanks. Yet the lives of the saints show us how to find joy under all circumstances and the saint we remember this year on the feast of American Thanksgiving especially teaches how to give glory to God for all things.

Saint John Chrysostom the Golden-mouthed Archbishop of Constantinople (347-407) not only lived a life of thanksgiving, he is the principle author of the Divine Liturgy, the means by which the Church communes the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the medicine of immortality and the mystical union of humanity with God. The Liturgy is also called the Eucharist from the Greek verb eucharisto which literally means “to give thanks” or to say thank you. When the church celebrates the Liturgy, She is thanking God, returning the gift received to the Giver of all good things in an eternal circle of reciprocal thanks.

Continue reading

Fish for Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 28, 2019
American Thanksgiving
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church

By an uncommon occurrence, the beginning of our Orthodox Advent Fast this year coincides with the 4th Thursday of November, otherwise known in America as Thanksgiving. I have blogged before about my annoyance at reducing this great holiday to its chief dish. This year we received an opportunity to practice giving thanks without the turkey, and you know, I think we all felt quite a bit lighter.

Continue reading

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving

Hello dear friends and readers. I must confess a certain annoyance this time every year. While the voices to “keep Christ in Christmas” seem loud and insistent, everyone else seems content to celebrate our great American holiday of Thanksgiving any ‘ole way they please. I hear increasingly every year, the holiday reduced to its chief dish and simply called “Turkey Day”. While this at first seems endearing, it is quite alarming when I begin to hear people describe food as “something to die for.” Below is a reflection by my good friend and former Missions Professor, Fr. Luke Veronis, on the true spirit of Thanksgiving. Blessed feast to all. Happy Thanksgiving!

GIVING THANKS
Thanksgiving 2017
Lancaster, PA

78134-004-8587374eThere is a beautiful story about one of the greatest world leaders, Abraham Lincoln.  One day an elderly woman made an appointment to see the president.  When she entered his office, he welcomed her and asked, “How may I help you?” The woman responded in a quiet voice, “Mr. President, I know that you must be very busy.  I didn’t come to ask anything of you. I simply came because I heard that you liked certain cookies, and I decided to bake some for you.” After she gave them to her, she got up to leave.  However, she could see that there were tears in the president’s eyes. He smiled at her and said, “Madam, I thank you for your gift. I must tell you that during all the years of my presidency, many people have come into my office asking for favors and even demanding that I help them in various ways. But you are the very first and only person to come into my office and ask for nothing, but instead to bring me a gift of thanksgiving.  I thank you, and promise that I will never forget your act of love.” Continue reading

Sub-Culture Vs. Real Culture

Saturday, October 15/28, 2017
Mother of God Who Ripens the Grain

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

The English word culture is rooted in the Latin word cultura meaning agriculture, tillage, or husbandry. But the modern English word has drifted far from this association with the earth into realms of plastic fabrication and surrogate substitution. Many contemporary Christians, for instance, without an authentic culture to under-gird their worthy spiritual aspirations, have created a whole sub-culture which seeks simply to borrow popular forms it finds in the world and substitute Christian lyrics/content into them. Such a recycling of pop culture often results in entertainment that is cheap and inauthentic. Continue reading

A Deeper Kind of Thanksgiving

We celebrated Thanksgiving today in our usual way of traveling to Nativity of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church (OCA) in Chelsea, MA for their annual inter-Orthodox Thanksgiving Liturgy. What a tremendous occasion for inter-Orthodox activity, especially the celebration of the Eucharist which in Greek actually means “Thank You” or “Thanksgiving”. The Orthodox Church in America has written a wonderful service designed especially to honor this great American holiday. Continue reading

Redeeming Harvest Time

Redeeming the times for the days are evil…

Such a redemption is the basis for our whole church life with its organization of time around the liturgical cycles of feasts and fasts, of saints and holy events, of celebrations and commemorations of deliverance by the hand of almighty God. While these liturgical cycles are more than adequate to feed and order the spiritual life, it is important similarly to feed the soul with an equally rich and diverse sustenance of cultural and seasonal celebrations. Continue reading