As readers of this blog know, I store great faith in the Holy Fathers. Their wisdom paved the path that we, today, follow. I try to bring the wisdom of the East, past and present, to those of us in the West, and as the American Thanksgiving Day looms near I feel it important to pass on the thoughts of one of those Early Fathers, Saint Peter of Damaskos, as it seems just as relevant today as it did centuries ago.
We ought all of us always to give thanks to God for both the universal and the particular gifts of soul and body that He bestows on us. The universal gifts consist of the four elements and all that comes into being through them, as well as all the marvelous works of God mentioned in the divine Scriptures. The particular gifts consist of all that God has given to each individual. These include
- wealth, so that one can perform acts of charity;
- poverty, so that one can endure it with patience and gratitude;
- authority, so that one can exercise right judgment and establish virtue;
- obedience and service, so that one can more readily attain salvation of soul;
- health, so that one can assist those in need and undertake work worthy of God;
- sickness, so that one may earn the crown of patience;
- spiritual knowledge and strength, so that one may acquire virtue;
- weakness and ignorance, so that, turning one’s back on worldly things, one may be under obedience in stillness and humility;
- unsought loss of goods and possessions, so that one may deliberately seek to be saved and may be helped when incapable of shedding all one’s possessions or even of giving alms;
- ease and prosperity, so that one may voluntarily struggle and suffer to attain the virtues and thus become dispassionate and fit to save other souls;
- trials and hardship so that those who cannot eradicate their own will may be saved in spite of themselves, and those capable of joyful endurance may attain perfection.
St. Peter of Damaskos