Fr. James Martin, S.J.: This Thanksgiving, pray for gratitude

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

Subscribe to “The Examen” for free on Apple Podcasts


Subscribe to “The Examen” for free on Google Play

Join our Patreon Community

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.

[Don’t miss any of the latest writings, podcasts and videos from Father Martin. Sign up for his newsletter.]

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
james 4u
4 months ago

We are happy to read your article here. Now, we have tutuapp alternative application that is "TweakBox App". You can use this app to get your favorite Spotify premium app for free of cost.

J Cosgrove
4 months ago

I believe this message appeared last year and is spot on. People who are grateful are happy people. People who are not grateful tend to be unhappy. I work with a person who is legally blind and hearing impaired. She is always smiling and happy and we look forward to her coming each day. I tell her she is my hero.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Frank T
4 months ago

Living in a state of gratitude is a very precious gift to possess, not something that one easily arrives at in this culture, where acquisition and competition are so constantly reinforced.

Olive McVeigh
4 months ago

Emily Dickinson said: Pain
Is lost
In praise,
I think it is also lost in gratitude.

3 months 4 weeks ago

Thank - you!

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
3 months 4 weeks ago

Happy Thanksgiving.


The latest from america

Sister Bibiana Emenaha
A combination of a rapidly growing population, extreme poverty, unemployment and armed conflict push people to cross Nigeria’s porous borders in search of a better life.
Linus UnahMarch 22, 2019
As we come to grips with a national history of violence, greed and racialized privilege, this fable of noblesse oblige rings hollow.
Brandon SanchezMarch 22, 2019
In "Miracle Workers" Simon Rich balances the surreal with the mundane and anchors fantasy with practicality, providing the perfect stakes for dramatic and comedic tension.
Jake Kring-SchreifelsMarch 22, 2019
Sharon Hogan and Rob Delaney (photo: IMDB)
The hit Amazon show asks: Can we really just be unapologetically ourselves?
Jim McDermottMarch 22, 2019