I recently posted about the nature of gratitude, and soon after had the privilege of finding Jim Manney's short work A Simple Life-Changing Prayer: Discovering the Power of St. Ignatius of Loyola's Examen. There, Manney writes:
It's impossible to exaggerate how important gratitude is to Ignatius's worldview; it's absolutely central. It's so important that he considered ingratitude to be the deadliest sin. Out of all sins and evils, he wrote, "ingratitude is one of the things most worthy of detestation." So much so, he continued, that ingratitude is "the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins."
Given the centrality of gratitude for Ignatian spirituality, and for a basic Christian worldview, why, I wonder, don't we talk about it more in education or in the spiritual formation of young adults? It's a theme that's mentioned but not emphasized. This isn't to say we moderns don't appreciate what's been done for us, but Manney is right: in modern culture, most people think of giving thanks as a matter merely of good manners, not in terms of a more fundamental spiritual and ethical obligation. To what extent, then, should Ignatian education prioritize a proper understanding of gratitude? To what extent should the formation of students and faculty include training in thanksgiving?
While pondering that, I want to offer one tip that's been helpful for me. There are some days I rush into the morning, and I'm fixated on what needs to get done or the difficulties the day will bring. And then there are days when I begin by saying: "Lord, thank you for this day. I didn't earn it. I'm not owed it. Thank you for giving me one more chance to breathe, to see the sun, to participate in the wonder of creation."
Needless to say, the latter kind of mornings always lead to better days.