By: Sr Mara, OCD

Gratitude is the first sign of a thinking, rational creature.” Father Solanus Casey, the Franciscan Priest who will be beatified on November 17, 2017, gets to the heart of what distinguishes humanity from the rest of creation. As human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, we are able to recognize the gift of life with all its blessings and express gratitude in return, whereas plants, animals, and all other created things are incapable of doing such. As humans, though, how often do we put this into practice? It is so easy to take things, and life for that matter, for granted.

But what exactly is gratitude? Is it a warm feeling that rises up within you when someone does something nice for you? Is it a kind word of appreciation when you recognize goodness in another? Yes. It is this and much more, for gratitude is a virtue. We all know that a virtue is a good habit which must be exercised in order to make it stronger. We can all grow in the virtue of gratitude and we should work out this “gratitude” muscle on a daily basis!

You might consider these simple habits that can cultivate gratitude in your daily life:

ONE: Pray for an increase in gratitude. The good Lord said: “Ask and you shall receive”. So, firstly, ask the Lord to help you see and recognize the blessings He is sending your way on a daily basis.

TWO: Thank Him for all the gifts of the day!  Make a list if that helps…begin with the obvious ones and just keep writing. Your list may start off short, but if you keep the practice up, soon you will begin to see that your list is nearly inexhaustible and that ALL is gift, even the trials and mishaps of life.

THREE: This may seem obvious, but the words “Please” and “Thank You” should be common words in your daily vocabulary! Common courtesy and politeness should not be overlooked. Sadly, this too is becoming rare in today’s society.

We must remember that gratitude is not just a feeling, rather it is a choice. Even if you don’t feel grateful, you can consciously choose to be GRATEFUL so and to express it in some way. In short, strive to have an “attitude of gratitude!” After all, this is what makes you human!