St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order, once said that ingratitude was the worst of sins and in fact the origin of all sins. How is that possible?
Well, in the case of being jealous, it might be because you’re not grateful for what you do have and are focused on what you don’t have. In the case of being selfish, it might also be not being grateful for the things you have and wanting more and more, so much more that you are unwilling to give to another person. And, in the case of not forgiving, it might be an ingratitude that manifests itself in focusing on the one person who has done you harm, rather than looking at all the good things in your life. As I said, it may be. Or it may not be. Still, Ignatius is really onto something here. Ingratitude can make us jealous, and selfish and sometimes cruel. It focuses not on what we have but what we don’t have. It doesn’t let us, as a friend likes to say, “have what we have.” This week in the United States we are celebrating Thanksgiving, which reminds us, and maybe even forces us, to look at the blessings that we have in our lives. That’s a powerful antidote to some of the sinful behaviors that I just mentioned. Moreover, giving thanks leads to happiness. So if ingratitude is the original of all sins, gratitude is the gateway to the spiritual life. This week why not take a little longer on the gratitude part of your Examen. You might just find that you, and everyone around you, is a little happier. Happy Thanksgiving.