Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, the late Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the last time on Thanksgiving Day 1983. Two weeks later, on December 13, he fell asleep in the Lord. As is well known, Father Alexander had devoted his entire life to teaching, writing and preaching about the Eucharist—the Greek word eucharist means thanksgiving. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Father Alexander took from his pocket a short written sermon, in the form of a prayer, which he proceeded to read. This was uncharacteristic of Father Alexander, since he never wrote his liturgical homilies, but delivered them extemporaneously. These were his words, which proved to be the last ever spoken by him from the ambo in church, yet which resound as clearly today, 35 years later, as they did the day they were spoken.
Everyone capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation and eternal joy.
Thank You, O Lord, for having accepted this Eucharist, which we offered to the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and which filled our hearts with the joy, peace and righteousness of the Holy Spirit.
Thank You, O Lord, for having revealed Yourself unto us and given us the foretaste of Your Kingdom.
Thank You, O Lord, for having united us to one another in serving You and Your Holy Church.
Thank You, O Lord, for having helped us to overcome all difficulties, tensions, passions, temptations and restored peace, mutual love and joy in sharing the communion of the Holy Spirit.
Thank You, O Lord, for the sufferings You bestowed upon us, for they are purifying us from selfishness and reminding us of the “one thing needed;” Your eternal Kingdom.
Thank You, O Lord, for having given us this country where we are free to worship You.
Thank You, O Lord, for this school, where the name of God is proclaimed.
Thank You, O Lord, for our families: husbands, wives and, especially, children who teach us how to celebrate Your holy Name in joy, movement and holy noise.
Thank You, O Lord, for everyone and everything.
Great are You, O Lord, and marvelous are Your deeds, and no word is sufficient to celebrate Your miracles.
Lord, it is good to be here! Amen!