May 2022 be blessed for you in a very special way. The Reflection on Saying Thanks is offered for your thoughtful consideration as the year progresses. May its practice make a positive difference in your life, and in the lives of others.

The famed novelist Morris West suggests that when you turn seventy-five years of age there should only be three phrases left in your vocabulary: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! He’s right. At a certain point in our lives nothing else matters other than gratitude. We can be healthy, accomplished, famous, rich, and have left behind a legacy that will make us forever remembered, but if we are not living inside a spirit of gratitude, all of that will mean nothing. We will not be happy, nor will we be much of a source of happiness for others.

Gratitude is the ultimate virtue and the only real route to happiness. It is more important even than love because anything which does not take its root in gratitude will be self-serving and manipulative in some way. Only when we give of ourselves to others because we are grateful for how we have been blessed—only then will our love flow out as pure and as not demanding something in return. When we are not acting out of gratitude, we may be well intentioned and outwardly generous in our actions, but we will not truly be acting in love. We will be carrying other people’s crosses but, in however subtle the fashion, also sending them the bill.

The entire spiritual task of growing into a truly mature and loving person consists in rooting ourselves more and more in gratitude, where love can flow out from a heart and demand nothing in return because it already has its return.

To celebrate thanksgiving—to explicitly express and celebrate gratitude—is the singularly most important and healthiest thing we can do for ourselves, both spiritually and humanly.

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, “Saying Thanks . . .” from the November 2019 issue of Give Us This Day (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2019). Used with permission.

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