Giving Thanks in a Pandemic

On this Thanksgiving Day, I’m reminded of a remarkable man who was my teacher at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary: Father Alexander Schmemann. Father Schmemann of blessed memory celebrated his last Thanksgiving on November 24th, 1983. Less than three weeks later he passed on to eternity. On that Thanksgiving Day he celebrated the Liturgy at the Chapel of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. At the end he spoke the following memorable words: 

Everyone capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation and eternal joy.

Thank You, O Lord, for having accepted this Eucharist, which we offered to the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and which filled our hearts with the joy, peace and righteousness of the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, O Lord, for having revealed Yourself unto us and given us the foretaste of Your Kingdom.

Thank You, O Lord, for having revealed Yourself unto us and given us the foretaste of Your Kingdom.

Thank You, O Lord, for having united us to one another in serving You and Your Holy Church.

Thank You, O Lord, for having helped us to overcome all difficulties, tensions, passions, temptations and restored peace, mutual love and joy in sharing the communion of the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, O Lord, for the sufferings You bestowed upon us, for they are purifying us from selfishness and reminding us of the “one thing needed;” Your eternal Kingdom.

Thank You, O Lord, for having given us this country where we are free to Worship You.

Thank You, O Lord, for this school, where the name of God is proclaimed.

Thank You, O Lord, for our families: husbands, wives and, especially, children who teach us how to celebrate Your holy Name in joy, movement and holy noise.

Thank You, O Lord, for everyone and everything.

Great are You, O Lord, and marvelous are Your deeds, and no word is sufficient to celebrate Your miracles.

Lord, it is good to be here! Amen.

Those final words that Father Alexander spoke, “Lord, it is good to be here! Amen” can be our own words of grateful awareness on this Thanksgiving. He spoke those words knowing that he was dying of cancer. We can speak the same words in the midst of a pandemic. It is good to be here because we can be witnesses to God’s goodness and mercy. Let us pray and thank God “for everyone and everything,” as Father Alexander did. Thanksgiving is the beginning to making all things sacred and precious. Everyone is capable of thanksgiving! Even, especially, during a pandemic that reveals so much truth about ourselves and the world around us. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving.

Fr. Alexander at the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy at St. Vladimir's Seminary Chapel in the early 1980s.
Fr. Alexander celebrating the Divine Liturgy at St. Vladimir’s Seminary Chapel in the early 1980s.

3 Replies to “Giving Thanks in a Pandemic”

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