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The true meaning of gratitude

 Angela Faustina, CSJ

As a child, the first components of social etiquette I learned were the “magical” words please and thank you, generally used to get something I wanted. My realization that gratitude means much more came about just a few years later.

One morning, I was walking to school. A few yards ahead of me was a boy I recognized from the neighborhood. Suddenly, he turned to face me, raised his arms and shouted, “STOP.” Startled into immobility, I remained frozen as a car, hidden by a hedge, passed in front of me, moving rapidly from driveway across sidewalk to street. Almost 70 years later, as I remember the event, my heart overflows with gratitude for that youth. In fact, I believe I have more gratitude today as I fully realize what his actions prevented.

Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough” for it recognizes the undeniable fact that all you see; all you have; all you are; and all you will ever see, have and be is a gift. When this awareness finds a place in the heart, it calls forth action. Being grateful is transformative. This is revealed in the choices and decisions we make to choose life, not just for ourselves, but for others. Gratitude requires continuance, duplication, in other words, it requires action so that others too may experience its joys and benefits.

Gratitude motivates us to the more—more love for God and the Dear Neighbor. Our 23 Los Angeles Province jubilarians and their 1,475 years of service are a visible proof of this fact. Their “Yes” was and continues to be a humble acknowledgment of God’s goodness and love and their desire to share that, to be that for others. Digo sí, Señor.

Category: Reflections

1 thought on “The true meaning of gratitude”

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    Gratitude is important to me. From the age of 4 our Mother taught us to write notes of thanks to anyone who gave us a gift or did a kindness.
    All my life I have written notes of gratitude and Thank you, is my mantra.
    My gratitude journal is full of the many beautiful and kind things that have been bestowed by God upon me.
    Thank you is my favorite prayer.

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The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.


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