The perfect day for a prayer of gratitude
A Reflection for Thanksgiving Day
Find today’s readings here.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. (Lk 17:15-16)
Prayers of gratitude often are some of the easiest to say and the easiest to forget to say. In times of trouble many people turn to God. But when things are going well, it’s very tempting to give ourselves full credit for our success, and to overlook the fact that all we have and all we are comes from God. All too often we are like the lepers in today’s Gospel who plead for Jesus’ help and then, when we receive that help, forget to offer gratitude.
In his daily Examen, St. Ignatius urges us to look upon our day with gratitude. The practice is so important that he urges Jesuits to do it twice a day. And the first reading shows us how simple it can be to get started: “Bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth.” Seeking opportunities for gratitude daily is a helpful practice because it means that we will be expressing gratitude even on days when it’s not easy to feel it. On days when there has been a loss or a broken relationship or bad news. On days when we feel angry at God or feel that God is not present.
Seeking opportunities for gratitude daily is a helpful practice because it means that we will be expressing gratitude even on days when it’s not easy to feel it.
Gratitude as a practice takes work; it reminds us that sometimes challenges can be a source of gratitude, and that even in the midst of hard times there is often much to be thankful for: the comfort of a friendship, the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, life everlasting. This sort of gratitude leads us toward greater freedom, the sort of freedom that allows us in prayers of petition to ask not for our will but God’s. I am often reminded of the words of Dag Hammarskjöld, who wrote: “For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come, Yes!”
Let us be grateful for the opportunity to offer that yes.