Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice." – Meister Eckhart
I can remember my spiritual director telling me that giving thanks everyday, even when times are tough for us, is one of the most meaningful prayers we can offer. I didn’t know how that was possible. I thought I had to FEEL grateful in order to give thanks. And how am I supposed to feel grateful when I’m sad or afraid?
Eventually I began to understand that an attitude of gratitude is more than just a feeling. It is more than being grateful for the good things that come our way.
An attitude of gratitude is about seeing the blessings in all the ups and downs of our lives, even in the darkest of storms. It is about seeing God’s loving presence in everything.
However, we don’t arrive at this attitude by ourselves. We need God’s grace. In looking back, I can see such moments of grace in my life, moments that have helped me to learn what it means to be truly thankful.
I remember those years when I attended a Catholic charismatic prayer group meeting. The main purpose of these meetings was to praise and worship God. I felt drawn to go there every week, giving thanks and praise to God over and over. And every week I went home, filled with joy.
There was the time when my husband had open heart surgery and serious complications and yet, all I could say was “thank you, Lord.” I felt such a strong sense of God’s presence with me, carrying me through every agonizing moment.
There were the years I spent working on my memoir about my healing journey as an incest survivor. And in writing it, I found hope and healing, and the understanding that there are two sides to every coin – the blessing and the curse. And I was grateful that God gave me the grace to see the blessing side to my suffering.
When I think about suffering, I think about Jesus and His suffering on the Cross. And yet, on the night He was to be betrayed, He gave thanks.
“… the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” 1 Cor 11:23-24
If there is to be one reason for me to have an attitude of gratitude, it would have to be the Eucharist. Over 20 years ago, I converted to the Catholic Church and I have been grateful ever since.
The word “eucharist” comes from a Greek word meaning “grateful” or “thanksgiving.”
Eucharist.
Thanksgiving.
Two words. Same meaning.
At the Last Supper, Jesus gave thanks, before breaking the bread. He gave thanks, knowing what he was going to go through; knowing the pain and suffering He would endure for us.
And everyday, during Mass, Jesus gives us the gift of Himself.
And we give thanks.

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11 comments :

Sue Elvis said...

Colleen,

When I think of how God led me to the Church and to the Eucharist, I am full of gratitude. Such a gift. Yes, I am very thankful. So many things to be thankful for, even when life gets difficult. And thank you for the reminder!

Good to share with you.

May God bless you and your family.

Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website said...

As I wind-down into my evening after this festive day of Thanksgiving...this post was such a beautiful meditation for me...thank you...AMAZING...how those words jumped out at me...that on the night He was to be betrayed...HE GAVE THANKS. WOW.
I am thankful for you...Colleen Spiro!

mary333 said...

This is such a beautiful post, Colleen! When I was attending a charismatic prayer meeting in my city I left the meeting filled with joy every time. Even if I was feeling down before I went!

mary333 said...

And...
Happy Thanksgiving!

Ha!Ha! My word verification is danced and I truly danced for joy after those praise and worship sessions with the Charismatic Catholics :)

God bless!

Colleen said...

Sue, thank you, too! Yes, the gift of the Church and our faith and the Eucharist. I am so grateful God never gave up in me. God bless you!

Judy, your words brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

Mary, that gift of joy is something else isnt it? I always felt that way too. That word verification was just perfect!
Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

RAnn said...

I've always loved knowing that about Eucharist/Thanksgiving.

Kathleen Basi said...

Ditto RAnn.

Gratitude is a muscle--the more you exercise it the easier it is to use.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

It's taken me many years to "get it" - that thanksgiving for everything is essential to spiritual growth. Perhaps the greatest contribution Christians make on the spiritual end of things is Catholics attending Mass (the Great Thanksgiving) and gathering with others for the purpose of praising God. We need to do this for ourselves and on behalf of all those who don't know how important this is.

noreen said...

What a beautiful post about Thanksgiving and the Eucharist. We are blessed more than we can imagine or appreciate!

Colleen said...

RAnn, me, too. I was just blown away the first time I heard it.

Kathleen, I had never heard that before but I love it. So very true.

Barb, I so agree with you about how important gratitude is. For ourselves as individuals and all of us as a community of believers. Gratitude changes our whole way of looking at things.
It took me a long time to "get it" too and I think it is that way for all of us. God bless you, Barb!

Noreen, yes we are!! Thanks!

ellengable said...

Beautiful post, Colleen. Thanks for the reminder about Eucharist/Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving (a little late) God bless!