Thanksgiving Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
To the Very Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:
The Civil Holiday of Thanksgiving, celebrated today in the United States and last month (October 14) in Canada, is a once-a-year acknowledgment by the world of the importance of the virtue of thanksgiving. In the Orthodox understanding, thanksgiving is not simply an occasional offering, but rather an essential aspect of our life.
This is reflected in the central expression of our communion with Christ, participation in the holy eucharist in which we offer our life to God and He offers His Life to us. St Irenaeus writes: “Our way of thinking is in harmony with the Eucharist, and conversely, the Eucharist confirms our way of thinking” (Against the Heresies, IV,17,5)
We gives thanks, not only after receiving the precious Body and Blood of Christ, but even before, in the pre-Communion prayers and in our preparation through prayer and fasting. This reminds us of the ascetical dimension of thanksgiving, which is not simply an intellectual mindset that we try to express but a way of life. This way of life involves effort on our part, but also the gifts of God, for which we are thankful.
“The more a man gives up his heart to God, to his vocation and to men, forgetful of himself and of that which belongs to him, the more lighthearted he will feel, until he attains peace, quiet, joy – the attributes of a simple and humble soul.” (Diary of a Russian Priest, page 80)
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada