What Does Gratitude Look Like?

Straight Street Orlando, a Christian group shares meals with the homeless at Lake Eola Park in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Joshua C. Cruey)

“Gratitude is not only the posture of praise but it is also the basic element of real belief in God.

When we bow our heads in gratitude, we acknowledge that the works of God are good. We recognize that we cannot, of ourselves, save ourselves. We proclaim that our existence and all its goods come not from our own devices but are part of the works of God.

Gratitude is the alleluia to existence, the praise that thunders through the universe as tribute to the ongoing presence of God with us even now.

Thank you for the new day.
Thank you for this work.
Thank you for this family.
Thank you for this daily bread.
Thank you for this storm and the moisture it brings to a parched earth.
Thank you for the corrections that bring me to growth.
Thank you for the bank of crown vetch that brings color to the hillside.
Thank you for the necessities that keep me aware of your bounty in my life.

Without doubt, unstinting gratitude saves us from the sense of self-sufficiency that leads to forgetfulness of God.

Praise is not an idle virtue in life. It says to us, “Remember to whom you are indebted. If you never know need, you will come to know neither who God is nor who you yourself are.”

Need is what tests our trust. It gives us the opportunity to allow others to hold us up in our weakness, to realize that only God in the end is the measure of our fullness.

Once we know need we are better human beings. For the first time we know solidarity with the poorest of the poor. We become owners of the pain of the world and devote ourselves to working in behalf of those who suffer.

Finally, it is need that shows us how little it takes to be happy.

Once we know all of those things we have come face-to-face with both creation and the Creator. It is the alleluia moment that discovers both God and goodness for us.” —Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB

From The Breath of the Soul: Reflections on Prayer by Joan Chittister (23rd Publications)

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