Prot. No. 325/2023
Archepiscopal Encyclical for Thanksgiving
November 23, 2023
Unto the Most Reverend and Right Reverend Hierarchs, Pious Priests and Deacons, Monks and Nuns, Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils, Honorable Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Members of Leadership 100, Day and Afternoon Schools, Philoptochos Societies, Youth, Greek Orthodox Organizations, and entirety of the Christ-loving Plenitude of the Sacred Archdiocese of America:
Give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
(I Thessalonians 5:18)
Beloved sisters and brothers in Christ,
Our National Day of Thanksgiving arrives in a time when the world is in turmoil, and “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6) cast a pall over the global community. It is often difficult to muster the intention to be thankful in such moments. But as the Apostle Paul reminds us in his first letter to the nascent Christian community in Thessaloniki, we fulfill the will of God by our gratitude. This does not mean that we are thankful for the miseries that afflict the world, but that even in such distressing and sad circumstances, we persist through them.
President Abraham Lincoln, in one of his precursor “Thanksgiving” proclamations (July 15, 1863), just days after the bloody victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, said: “It is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father, and the power of His hand, equally in these triumphs and in these sorrows.” In the midst of the brutal Civil War, Lincoln acknowledged the “presence” of God. And this is what giving thanks in all things really means.
The gratitude that is expressed in our Thanksgiving meals and gatherings is an acknowledgment of God’s ultimate will in our lives. We pass through suffering in this world, but like the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ, we also pass-over to Resurrection. We can look around and give in to despair, or we can give thanks to God for His will that “all people should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4).
Therefore, my beloved Christians, on this Thanksgiving Day, let us look beyond to the truth of God’s providential love for us, and offer Him the gratitude which can transform our world into His Kingdom.
With gratitude for each and every one of you in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Archbishop of America
Note: To be read in every parish of the Archdiocese on Sunday, November 19, 2023.