Sing with ‘grattitude’ to God

November 13, 2018

St. Ambrose said, “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” With the month of November and the approach of Thanksgiving, we take a day out of our national calendar to remember to give thanks for all the abundance we have been given.

With all the negative rhetoric in our society today, we may have not focused on all the wonderfully positive events and gifts we experience. Many of our prayers offered to God are in the form of supplication. We ask him to grant us favors, cures, good health, intervention in a life situation, and many other needs. This is quite appropriate for we are encouraged to “knock and it shall be opened.” 

But, how many of us think to thank God for all the daily wonders and gifts? Do we take time to recognize that which God has so generously bestowed on us?

One of my Facebook friends posted a 30-day gratitude challenge. Every day for a month she became aware of all the gifts she took for granted: food on the table, the ability to work, freedom, the right to differ in our political opinions, clean water, rain, family, etc., and shared those on her timeline with all her friends. 

It made us think of all that we take for granted. St. Mary Euphrasia said, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” What are our heart memories? Living a life of gratitude is living a life of enthusiasm. As St. John Paul II tells us, “Remember the past with gratitude. Live the present with enthusiasm. Look forward to the future with confidence!”

I read once about a billboard in Tompkinsville, New York, that read: GRATTITUDE. Many thought there was a spelling error. 

It turns out the sign was not a mistake at all, but a piece of artwork created by New York-based artist Peter Tunney. According to Tunney, “gratitude is not just something you say when you get what you want. I like the idea of putting it out there of gratitude as an action.” 

It is a combination of attitude and gratitude. We need to rise each day and go to sleep each night uttering a simple mantra: Thank you God for everything! This focus can greatly reshape our life. To be grateful for everything we have in our life has the power to dissolve a lot of negative thinking.

St. Teresa of Avila tells us: “…in all things give Him thanks.” We have so many advantages in this country that others do not have. Even Confucius said, “I was complaining that I had no shoes till I met a man who had no feet.” 

Gratitude is an attitude of the heart. As we practice gratitude, it changes the way we see God, ourselves and others and makes us more aware of how everything in our life is a gift. A good way to practice praying our gratitude is to use the form of prayer introduced by St. Ignatius called the Examen.

The Examen is a simple five-step prayer: Asking God for the light of understanding, giving thanks, reviewing the day as guided by the Holy Spirit, asking forgiveness for our daily shortcomings, and looking forward for the day to come. 

Part of our job to our fellow Christians is to be Christ to one another, showing them we care and that we are grateful for their presence in our lives. We are not taking people for granted but recognizing them as gifts of God to us in which God is reflected through them to us.

“Learn, too, to be grateful. May all the wealth of Christ’s inspiration have its shrine among you; now you will have instruction and advice for one another, full of wisdom, now there will be psalms, and hymns, and spiritual music, as you sing with gratitude in your hearts to God. Whatever you are about, in word and action alike, invoke always the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, offering your thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:16-17 †

Julie Blevins is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.