The Virtue That Will Enrich Your Life, Starting Now

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – G.K. Chesterton

gratitudeAs I look back on my life, there are two instances that stand out in my mind as moments where I felt especially grateful. It’s interesting that both occasions did not involve anything material.

Of course I am grateful for the diamonds and roses that Jeff has brought me, and for the gifts we have received from loving relatives and friends, but why these two occasions stand out in my mind is because I was in very great need and someone voluntarily offered to help.

You Know the Feeling…

Once was after the birth of our first child. Two friends came over and completely cleaned our mobile home from top to bottom, even dusting the drapes while I sat on the couch holding a baby.

I knew they were doing it completely out of love and selflessness, which made their gift so special. The warm feeling in my heart couldn’t be expressed in words.

The other occasion was one in which the person who helped me probably has no idea how that moment made a difference to me.

It was just a simple offer to pick up a child from school and bring her home. I had several places I needed to be all at the same time that day and the task of juggling it all was overwhelming. Her cheerful offer brought tears to my eyes and she could not have imagined how deep was my thank-you.

We Were Made to Be Dependent

In order to be truly thankful, we need to acknowledge our inability to be self-sufficient.

We need to remind ourselves to have such gratitude toward God since our every breath is dependent on his mercy and loving kindness. That inexpressible, warm feeling of gratitude should overwhelm us everyday and especially during mass when the host is elevated and we enter into the mystery of the sacrifice made by the God of the Universe just for us.

Amazing!

To become truly thankful is to realize how needy we are.  (Tweet this.)

Recently a dear friend of mine suffered an accident and was in need of daily assistance. Church friends and neighbors rallied around her and made sure she was cared for. It was a great testament to the community and a blessing to watch because I could see how grateful and overwhelmed my friends was by the outpouring of help.

If you can think back to a time when you had that feeling of overwhelming gratitude, capture it in your heart and bring it to mass as an offering to Christ.


Now Over to You:

Do you remember a time when someone helped you out of the kindness of their hearts? How did you respond, and how has gratitude enriched your life?

Emily Cavins

Emily received her BA in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Minnesota and is a tour leader of annual pilgrimages to Israel and other Bible related destinations. Her most recent publication is Lily of the Mohawks: The Story of St. Kateri, the first Native American Saint from North America. She is the developer of the “Great Adventure Kids” bible study materials. She co-wrote the “Walking Toward Eternity: Making Choices for Today” Bible Study Series One and Two with her husband, Jeff. She is also the author of “Catholic Family Night,” a series of lessons covering all three liturgical reading cycles with one lesson per week throughout the entire year. Emily lives in Minnesota with Jeff, her husband of over 30 years.

  • Beverly Hagar-Schmerse

    I have suffered with bipolar illness for the past 33 years….I have had various spiritual directors about the last 5-6 years…the last one was one who suggested spiritual direction to me for discerning the spiritual gifts in my life…little did I know the changes that this would have in my life. Like many others have alluded to here, I was somewhat bitter, and questioning “Why me?” Through looking back on my whole life and talking it over with God, journaling, reading scripture, and talking to my spiritual director, I have gradually come to recognize that in the midst of my trials and troubles, God was not only present, but actively working in, through, with me to effect my life and those of others around me…I have found many blessings in these times…But this has only come with distancing myself from the situation and looking at it from different angles..sometimes we are so enmeshed in our trials and struggles that we can’t see beyond it…I would encourage those who find themselves in this situation to remember that God IS there, knows our needs and will only allow us to struggle as much as we can handle…sometimes that may seem immense and overwhelming, but this can stretch us and our faith that no other way can…My favorite quote then, is: “I am with you until the end of this age.” This was Jesus’ promise to us, and we can depend on Him to keep His Word…For His Words are life and truth…Jesus, I will trust in you…can be a wonderful motto in such a time as this. Will pray for all who are suffering through trials and tribulations this day…

  • Wow, Tom, that is so hard – what a difficult situation. Gratitude is not easy to practice in a time like this. Please know that you’re in our prayers. Trust in God – He always looks out for us, and He will take care of you and your spouse.

  • Tom

    I’m having trouble with gratitude now. My wife was diagnosed with dementia two years ago and all of our friends and family fled like its a contagious cancer when I asked for some help to care for her. For example, my wife’s sister, who was the recipient of my wife’s kidney in 1997, stating that she is retired and busy with her grandchildren, my wife best friend of 20 years said that she getting older, has a bad back and does not have the patience for this; my wife’s her other friend of 15 years said that dealing with her caused her to have panic attack and her psychiatrist recommended that she not care for my wife. The one friend from our church that helped her for a few months needed to move to another state. Since I could not get anybody to help my wife I had to hire paid. Bitter? probably. I know I can’t do this alone and but know relize that most people are narcissistic.

    • Beverly Hagar-Schmerse

      Dementia is a difficult illness to have to deal with…My mother-in-law and my mother both suffered from it (altzheimer’s)…such an illness wrecks havoc on a family and especially on the care-taker…May God sustain you in this difficult time, and send you someone who will help you carry the load that you are bearing…I also pray, that eventually you may find something good that has come your way through this experience that could have not been there if you hadn’t gone through it…It is in times like this, that learn the true character of the people around us…unfortunately, most of the times others just don’t think to help out their fellow man in times of need…and we need to humble ourselves, and ask for help…this can be most difficult…for we are used to being self-sufficient…have you thought to ask your Church family for help in your situation? There may be some there who have the time and the inclination to help, but who won’t approach you without your invitation….seeking help from others in our times of need can be challenging, but will be very rewarding in the long run…Best wishes to you, Tom…

  • Avila

    Quite a number of years ago, I was in tears of gratitude because someone made me a cup of coffee. It had been years since anyone had offered or made me a drink because they preferred to visit me, or if I visited them I had to make a drink myself or go thirsty. It is always the littlest of things that have the biggest impact.

  • Reed Chauffe

    Emily, I would have to say the day on May 26, 1976, this was the day my mother was shot while two young men came into the bank to rob it. She was shot in the head and was left for dead by the two robbers. I was 18 years old then and I had a younger brother that was only 13. The out pouring of love of friends, the small community (village) of Parks that the bank where mom worked, all the organizations that both my parents belonged to was completely overwhelming. My mom was the First Communion teacher for the small Catholic Church that we belonged to. My dad was in the K of C’s and was at the time the State Deputy of the K of C’s. Everyone knew my mom and she had many friends. I would say that day I lost both my parents, mom with with the head wound and my dad who suffered his first stroke. At that time is where I relied on my Catholic faith and did not ask any questions of why, but to give me strength to understand in His wisdom to accept what His plan was for me. Mom lived in a comatose state for 16 months till she with all her sufferings was called home to Jesus. The third night while she was in ICU, I went to her and she was in and out of consciousness, I held her hand and told her that the police had found the two men that robbed the bank had been caught and she squeezed my hand and a tear rolled down her eye. I also told her that if she was to get to Heaven, that she had to forgive the men that shot her and she squeezed my hand again and tears flowed from both of her eyes and after that she never showed any signs of emotions again. I know she is in heaven, because I dream of her every night were she takes me to Jesus were He teaches me about the beatitudes and the meaning of His word! I have been having these dreams for three years now since I have found out that I have a rare brain disease that causes 24/7 migraines. The blood vessels in my brain are slowly dying and there is no cure for this genetic disease of which there are only 30 people in the USA that have this disease called CADASIL. The disease is usually found in people who are in their 80’s, but when the blood work came back positive, the doctors in Houston, TX knew I was going to be a special case study. I worked as a Civil Engineer and was tested with a very high IQ while having a full blown migraine. I’m determined to stay positive and continue my studies of my Catholic faith and also to continue to lead groups in the bible studies, as Jeff has been a great inspiration to me and the pleasure of meeting you. In my dream every night, I walk in the dust that Jesus kicks up as I walk behind Him. One day my wish is to walk in the dust with you and Jeff in the Jerusalem tour, for it’s on my short bucket list because for my doctors have given me about three years before I have a massive stroke. May God continue to bless the work that both you and Jeff do to increase the faith of other Catholics around the world. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Reed

  • Sharon

    My comment isn’t so much about help I received but a comment made by a friend when she was going through an illness. Her friends and the community were helping her and her family in numerous ways and she felt overwhelmed by the support. Someone told her not to worry, that God was giving us the chance to be good christians and do as Jesus taught. We should accept help and support to allow others to do as we ought. I have thought of that often since that time, although it is much easier said than done!

  • pnkyB4brain

    Currently I have been experiencing a great deal of stress at work due to an administration change. I am concerned because this negative situation is affecting my health.
    However, there is one very special co employee that gives me a reassuring smile of encouragement each day. This special smile of strength comes from God and it gives me the insight to overcome the obstacles that deters my daily work performance.
    This is a small kindness of the heart from someone I know and it has taught me gifts from Our Lord come to us in different shapes and sizes when we least expect a gift! I am so thankful that she can help me get through this difficult and trying time.

  • claudette morrison

    I had surgery a couple years ago and really needed help because my family lives in another state. My coworkers took turns in caring for me. Someone took me to the hospital, drove me home feed me, medicated me. I was never left alone until my family arrived. The ladies that could not visit send their husbands with food. I will be ever grateful to these people and to God for the blessings throughout that period in my life and always.