Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Time for Thanksgiving

I am guessing that if someone speaks to a monk from Mount Athos he will be told that all day and all night is time for thanksgiving, promoting St Paul’s belief of praying unceasingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17). St John Chrysostom gives an interesting statement, whereby he seems to support the ancient Tradition and practice of the Church, of the Agape – where Christians would first have a meal and then celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Later on, as we know, this practice was reversed and now we celebrate the Liturgy and have coffee or a meal afterwards. Additionally St John endeavours to be revolutionary with his writings, taking Jesus example into account, criticising our habit of eating too much, explaining:

‘The time after dinner is the time for thanksgiving and he who gives thanks should not be drunk but sober and wide awake. After dinner let us not go to bed but to prayer, or we may become more irrational than the irrational beasts.
I know that many will condemn what I say, thinking that I am introducing a strange new custom into our life; but I will condemn more strongly the wicked custom which now prevails over us. Christ has made it very clear that after taking nourishment at table we ought to receive not sleep in bed but prayer and reading of the divine Scriptures. When He had fed the great multitude in the wilderness, He did not send them to bed and to sleep, but summoned them to hear divine sayings. He had not filled their stomachs to bursting, nor abandoned them to drunkenness; but when He had satisfied their need, He led them to spiritual nourishment. Let us do the same; and let us accustom ourselves to eat only enough to live, not enough to be distracted and weighed down. For we were not born, we do not live, in order to eat and drink; but we eat in order to live. At the beginning life was not made for eating, but eating for life. But we, as if we had come into the world for this purpose, spend everything for eating.’[1]

[1] Behr, John (ed.), St John Chrysostom – On Wealth and Poverty, (New York, SVSP, 1981), pp.27-8.

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