Whom God Would Have Us Be

When man stands before the throne of God, when he has fulfilled all that God has given him to fulfill, when all sins are forgiven, all joy restored, then there is nothing else for him to do but to give thanks. Eucharist (thanksgiving) is the state of perfect man. Eucharist is the life of paradise. Eucharist is the only full and real response of man to God’s creation, redemption and gift of heaven. But this perfect man who stands before God is Christ. In Him alone all that God has given man was fulfilled and brought back to heaven. He alone is the perfect Eucharistic Being, He is the Eucharist of the world. In and through this Eucharist the whole creation becomes what it always was to be and yet failed to be.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann in For the Life of the World.

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Perhaps the greatest single failure in the Christian life is the refusal to give thanks. Thanks that is dependent upon success or the fulfillment and pleasure of our own will is indeed thanksgiving – but is weak indeed. It is easy to give thanks for our pleasures and self-satisfactions (though even then we often forget to give thanks).

All too often in our relationship with God and others, thanksgiving is purely reciprocal: we offer thanks as though it were a token payment for that which we have received. As such, it may represent little more than a happy, greedy heart. It falls far short of the heart of thanksgiving (Eucharist) itself. The heart of true thanksgiving is not a payment for services rendered, but an existential expression of our love for God as the Lord and Giver of Life.

This fundamental attitude marks the relationship of Christ and the Father. He is always and eternally giving thanks to the Father. It is also the right and truly “whole” expression of what it is to be human in the face of God. We find ourselves beset with temptation, sickness and oppression of every sort – including the burden of our own failure and sinfulness. But true knowledge of God yields thanks despite all other temptations and trials. It is the sound of creation giving praise and thanksgiving to its Creator. Nothing is more fundamental nor more essential to the right-living of the human heart.

In the face of many circumstances that surround and crush us – thanksgiving to God can seem absurd. However, such absurdity is the voice of love that refuses to grant failure and oppression a greater place in our life than God Himself.

He is our God – and we praise Him. Let His enemies be scattered!

Thanksgiving, almost above all else, transforms us into the image of Christ – who Himself is the true Eucharist of all creation. To give thanks to God is inherently to unite ourselves with Christ and the true voice of creation.

It is truly meet and right…

Comments

  1. Timothy says

    Thank God every day with your whole heart for having given to you life according to His image and likeness – an intelligently free and immortal life. Especially thank God for having restored and guided you again unto life eternal after you had fallen into eternal death, and for having done so not simply by the action of His omnipotence, for this would not have been in conformity to His justice, but by having given for our redemption His only begotten Son, Who suffered and died for us. Thank Him also for again daily bestowing life upon you, who have fallen an innumerable multitude of times, by your own free will, through sins, from life into death, and that He does so as soon as you only say from your whole heart: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee!” Thank Him also for often delivering you from sickness, you who imprudently throw yourself into danger and sickness, the precursors of bodily death, for correcting your faults, and for not depriving you of earthly life, knowing that it is dear to you, and that you are not yet ready for the future, eternal life. Thank Him for all your means of existence, for all the joys and sorrows of life; for everything is from Him, the All-merciful Father; everything comes from the First Origin of Life, Who has apportioned and lent life to all.
    -St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

  2. says

    Are we called to give thanks for the trials and tribulations that constantly beset us? For the loss of a job? For the death of a child? There is an immense chasm between this discussion, an exercise solely for the sake or argument, and the reality of a life falling apart from the ceaseless storms of life. I can thank God for the innumerable blessings that come my way but I find it much harder to thank Him for the look on my child’s face when I tell her there is no more money for groceries.

    It is not my intention to disagree or to start an argument but to simply point out that it is easy enough to have these esoteric discussions about when we should or should not give thanks and the actuality of putting it into practice in a meaningful way. There is a disconnect somewhere between knowledge in the mind and wisdom in the heart. Speaking in platitudes is one thing, giving thanks (and really meaning it) for a personal tragedy is another.

    Does God deserve our thanks and praise? Absolutely. Do we thank him when we lose our home and become an additional burden on our families? Maybe. Maybe not. At least for me. Time works as the magic eraser and puts life and issues in perspective and we find that what once was impossible can now be done with at least a modicum of sincerity.

    Thank you for opening this discussion.