Thursday, November 22, 2012

Give Thanks

Everlasting King, Thy will for our salvation is full of power. Thy right arm controls the whole course of human life. We give Thee thanks for all Thy mercies, seen and unseen. For eternal life, for the heavenly joys of the Kingdom which is to be. Grant mercy to us who sing Thy praise, both now and in the time to come. Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age.--Kontakion 1 of the Akathist of Thanksgiving

The Metropolitan TRYPHON (+ 1934) wrote this akathist shortly before his death in a prison camp in 1940. (The attribution to Fr. Gregory Petrov who supposedly wrote this before he died in a prison camp in 1940 is a nice story, but false).  Though not yet glorified as a saint, he is under consideration as one of the New Martyrs of Russia.  Here's a brief summary of the end of his life when this akathist was written:

Shortly before his falling asleep in the Lord, Metropolitan Tryphon wrote his astonishing Akathist which became his spiritual testament. ‘Thanks be to God for all things!’ – in these words, the sum total of the spiritual experience of the Russian Orthodox Church in the times of the most cruel persecution which ever existed in the history of the Church of Christ. In 1924, the Metropolitan of Petrograd, Veniamin (Kazansky), who had been falsely charged with misappropriation of Church valuables, used these same words at the end of his speech in his trial. He was then sentenced to be shot. Christ Himself says, ‘be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). That is why, however hard and sorrowful the events of history, the power of God always triumphs.

The Resurrection was only possible after Golgotha. Similarly, the defeat of millions dying for their faith and the truth was turned into victory, being the way to eternal life, joyful and never-ending. Of this sings the inspired great son of Russia, Metropolitan Tryphon, thanking God ‘for all Thy good things both manifest and hid’; that is, having multiplied the talents entrusted to us, we will enter into the eternal joy of our Lord: Alleluia! Metropolitan Tryphon entered into his rest on 14 June 1934 and was buried in Nemetsokoye cemetery in Moscow. His grave is the object of veneration for countless Orthodox Russians.
Whatever our own beliefs may be about what Thanksgiving is and how it should be celebrated, Christians (not just Orthodox Christians) should bear in mind that this feast has its origins in people who came to this country to escape religious persecutions.  Whether it was first started by Pilgrims in Massachusetts or refugee Huguenots who  came to Florida, our Thanksgiving should be rooted always in thanks to God.  Yes, be thankful for good jobs, family, good friends, good golf games, good leaders (there are a few), etc., but be thankful to Him Who gave those.  And, though I admit it's easy for me to say this right now, be thankful even in the times of tribulation and sorrow. 

Metropolitan TRYPHON lived in a Russia full of tribulation and sorrow.  Holy Russia was being ravaged by the atheist communists.  Her priests, her churches, her monastics, her people were suffering.  Yet, he gave thanks to God.  And so should we....always or, as Metropolitan TRYPHON said, from age to age no matter what the circumstance.

A very happy thanksgiving to you and yours.


  1. A Blessed Thanksgiving, Chris. My name is Christian and I am a seminarian at Holy Cross Orthodox School of Theology in Boston. I was wondering if we could chat about the composition of hymns in the Orthodox Tradition - I very much enjoyed your Akathist to St. John of Damascus (A favorite saint of mine).

    My e-mail is - Please e-mail if you get the chance.

    God Bless,

  2. Thanks, Christian. And to you, too.

    I will email you later.