Now I know that not everyone listening to this podcast is living in the United States. We have a lot of listeners, for example, in the Philippines. For those of us in the United States, however, Thanksgiving is coming up. And if you think about it, that’s a strange thing to say for the Christian, isn’t it? Because giving thanks should be a daily occurrence, not an annual one. St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, once said that ingratitude was the worst of all sins, and in fact, the origin of all sins. And you can see what he meant. If you’re not grateful for what you already have in your life, you tend to want more and more and then get a bit greedy, and then acquisitive and then impatient and then grasping, and so on. From there it’s just a short step to sinful behavior.
This is one reason, among many, that St. Ignatius invites us to start the Daily Examen with gratitude. Not only because it’s a positive way to start off reviewing our day, and encourages us to see the good first, but because it grounds us in the reality of our lives. Gratitude is about looking at what God has already done, rather than looking at what you might need or want in the future, which may not be accurate at all. Gratitude, then, is a prayer about reality. And that’s true in whatever country you live, and on days with and without turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!