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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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We should be grateful to our Loving Gracious God every day of the Year

We should be grateful to our Loving Gracious God every day of the Year

Thanksgiving is a great time to celebrate with family and friends and to share what is happening in each others’ lives. What is most important, we give thanks to God for our lives and all our blessings. St. Paul tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Th 5:16-18).

An important aspect of our spiritual growth is developing an attitude of being grateful. We were not born with a thankful disposition. We developed it when a person gave us a gift or favor and our parents said, “What do you say?” In the gospel Jesus cured the ten lepers; nine were ungrateful. Jesus was always grateful and taught his followers the virtue of gratitude.

We have a lot to be thankful for. We thank God for the Spirit that gives us the strength, wisdom, power, and love to be the persons we are called to be. For our faith that helps us believe that when we seek, we will find; for answered prayers and the dream that will not die; for hope restored; for being able to surrender to what is and then to wait expectantly for what is to come.

We give thanks for the opportunities to bring joy, happiness, and comfort to others; for the support and presence of loving sisters and brothers; for being able to trust other human beings; for the opportunity to share our aspirations for the future with a friend; for being in love and having our hearts skip a beat; for the availability of a comforting shoulder to cry on and the warm embrace of a loved one; for feeling we are a part of a loving community or church.

Being thankful is not only good for our spiritual lives, it is also good for our physical and mental health. Gregg Easterbrook in an article entitled, Rx for Life: Gratitude, sites recent academic studies that show that gratitude affects our total well-being in the following ways.

1) People who describe themselves as feeling grateful have higher vitality and more optimism, suffer less stress, and experience fewer episodes of clinical depression than the population as a whole.

2) Grateful people are less materialistic than the population as a whole and they suffer less anxiety about status or the accumulation of possessions. Because of this, they are more likely to describe themselves as happy or satisfied with life.

3) In an experiment with college students, those who kept a weekly record of things they felt grateful for, achieved better physical health, were more optimistic, exercised more regularly, and described themselves as happier than a control group of students who did not keep journals.

4) Grateful people are more spiritually aware and more likely to appreciate the interconnectedness of all life, no matter what religion they profess.

Gratitude research suggests that thankfulness has a tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress, and to achieve a positive sense of self. Grateful people do not have a Pollyanna view of the world. People who scored high on various indicators of gratefulness also reported strong awareness of the bad aspects in their own lives and in society. They achieved the ability to balance life’s disappointments with a spirit of thankfulness for the good they experienced.

Grateful people are not necessarily those whom the world has showered with gifts. People of modest financial means or those who have suffered personal tragedies may see themselves as grateful, while the well-to-do and good-looking may exhibit little gratitude.

When we thank Almighty God, we are expressing the joy that comes from knowing that God walks with us in life. Life is precious. We should celebrate Thanksgiving, not just on the fourth Thursday of November, but every day of the year.