Feast of Thanksgiving

Abounding in Thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7)

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Day and Afternoon Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America,

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This month we celebrate Thanksgiving, a magnificent occasion when the people of our country gather as families and as communities to thank God for His tremendous blessings. Thanksgiving Day is a very important holiday in that it is expressive of feelings and thoughts that acknowledge and affirm God as the ultimate source of all goodness. Thus, Thanksgiving is unique among our other national holidays, resonating very distinctly with our Orthodox Christian theology.

The early colonists and indigenous peoples of this land, by inaugurating this day of celebration and praise, bequeathed to us an important tradition that has now become a national day of sacred significance. Though their history may be distinct from ours, we have in turn rightfully appropriated the Thanksgiving Day celebrations of our country to our own traditions. We feel the need to repeat the words of the Psalmist, It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night (Psalms 92:1-2).

Indeed on this important day we thank God for many blessings, but most of all we thank God for the precious gift of life that He has bestowed upon us, and for our capacity to celebrate this tremendous gift with others. As Greek Orthodox Christians in parishes throughout America, we are called to grow in our awareness of the magnitude of this blessing, and to cultivate in our hearts always a conscious gratitude for the miracle of life, especially on this holiday.

In the time that follows the Thanksgiving Feast, our ministry to others is a reflection of our continual gratitude to God for the gift of life; it is the means by which we translate our gratitude for Him into actions that aim at enhancing and improving the quality of life for all people. One manner by which we demonstrate this commitment is by directly participating with others in public events and gatherings that affirm the preciousness of life. Such gatherings draw men and women together from all walks of life in a common labor for the progress of human health and well-being and are, in a very real sense, events that emphasize the value of the gift of life, the source of which is our loving and merciful God. As such, they are true demonstrations of thanksgiving, and ones in which we should be continually participating in order to celebrate life with one another and to express our gratitude as Orthodox Christians to our Creator, who created everyone in His perfect image and likeness.

As you gather with your loved ones during this holiday season, worshiping together in your parishes, and feasting with one another in your homes, I pray that you may all grow in your awareness of the tremendous gifts and blessings which God has bestowed upon each and every one of you, the most basic and precious of which is the miraculous gift of life which we are called to cherish, safeguard, and give thanks for each day of our earthly lives. May God bless you and your families on this wonderful Day of Thanksgiving, and may God bless America.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America

Archive: Archbishop Demetrios' Encyclicals