Eucharist, our Thanksgiving

The Holy Table

The Holy Table

“The Eucharist is the center of life in the Orthodox Church because the Church is primarily a Eucharistic community. The Eucharist is the completion of all of the Church’s other sacraments and the source and the goal of all of the Church’s doctrines and institutions.

The Orthodox Church believes the Eucharist to be a sacrifice. As is heard in the Liturgy, “Thine of Thine own we offer to Thee, in all and for all.”

  1. At the Eucharist, the sacrifice offered is Christ himself, and it is Christ himself who in the Church performs the act of offering: He is both priest and victim.
  2. We offer to Thee. The Eucharist is offered to God the Trinity — not just to the Father but also to the Holy Spirit and to Christ Himself. So, what is the sacrifice of the Eucharist? By whom is it offered? and to whom is it offered? In each case the answer is Christ.
  3. We offer for all: according to Orthodox theology, the Eucharist is a propitiatory sacrifice, offered on behalf of both the living and the dead.

The Church teaches that the sacrifice is not a mere figure or symbol but a true sacrifice. It is not the bread that is sacrificed, but the very Body of Christ. And, the Lamb of God was sacrificed only once, for all time. The sacrifice at the Eucharist consists, not in the real and bloody immolation of the Lamb, but in the transformation of the bread into the sacrificed Lamb.

All the events of Christ’s sacrifice, the Incarnation, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension are not repeated in the Eucharist, but they are made present.”(OrthodoxWiki)

Eucharist, which means thanksgiving, is what the Christian life is all about, so it is natural that the center of the Church’s existence subsists in the celebration of thanksgiving.  What do us Orthodox Christians, in America, do on Thanksgiving? We give thanks, to our Creator and Savior and God.

“But Thanksgiving is not about fasting, and certainly not about criticizing others. It’s about giving thanks to God, and as such, even if it is not part of the age-old church calendar, it is one of the healthier things in American public life, and we should be giving thanks to God, regardless of what we eat or do not eat.” Vladyka Jerome

The Eucharist has always been that supreme act of thanksgiving and praise to God in His Church.

St John Chrysostom on the Eucharist:

 The dread Mysteries, full of such great salvation, which are celebrated at every Liturgy, are also called a Thanksgiving [Eucharistia] because they are the remembrance of many benefits, and they signify the culmination of God’s Providence towards us, and in every way cause us to be thankful to Him.

“The civil holiday of Thanksgiving is a wonderful reminder to us of the need to thank God for all that we take for granted; for all that we have had, and all that we think we will have in the future; for our churches, for our priests and matushkas, for our parishioners. This Thanksgiving, I especially thanked the Lord for all of you – the members of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Thank God for our parishioners! Without the bishop there is no Church, but without the parishioners, there is no parish and no community in which we all might care for one another.”   2012 Thanksgiving Message from Metropolitan Hilarion

This day of Thanksgiving, let us all give thanks to God for all His blessings He has bestowed upon each and every one of us!

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About padrerichard

I am a Priest with ROCOR and serve as Rector at St. Joseph of Optina Parish in Virginia Beach, VA
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