“Gratitude is really the base of our faith and one of the foundational virtues for a good life,” said the Most Rev. Donald Hying, Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin. He joined Morning Air® to explain why gratitude is so important to the spiritual life and share some tips for giving thanks.
“Gratitude is the awareness that everything is a gift from God, starting with our very existence and then leading all the way to our salvation. For us as Catholics, it all centers on the Eucharist, which means thanksgiving. So from the very beginning of the Church right after the Resurrection, those first followers of Jesus gathered every Sunday to give praise and thanks to God.”
Where does gratitude begin? Bishop Hying recommends cultivating our sense of childlike wonder. “Why is there something rather than nothing? Why did God make all of this; why did God make me? And when we start with the sense of almost childlike wonder at the gift of life, the miracle of life, I think we stand in this posture of being aware that it is all a gift. That I didn’t deserve any of it, it’s all simply handed to me.” When we realize that our life and our blessings were gifts from God, we are more willing to share them with others.
As we grow in holiness, we will find that our gratitude increases. With faith, our perspective changes are we are able to find joy and wonder in the simplest things. “If you look at the greatest saints, the further they advanced in holiness, in a sense the simpler they became because they came to discover the complete simplicity of God. To see the beauty of nature or to be grateful for the smallest of things and to see the wonder of it all is I think both childlike in the purest sense of what that means, but also very holy,” said Bishop Hying.
What ways can we grow in gratitude?
- Start your week with Holy Mass
- Give back to your community and those in need
- Give extra time to your family and to God
- Avoid comparing yourself to others
- Learn to embrace the crosses and struggles in your life
It’s important that we cultivate gratitude in our lives so that we can fight against the culture’s push to always want more, better, best. “You can never have enough of what you don’t need,” says Catholic speaker and author, Matthew Kelly. It can be difficult to fight against the materialism and entitlement that surrounds us and saturates the secular media, but gratitude is the key to overcoming these temptations.
“Gratitude takes the lowest place, happily, because it realizes how much has already been given,” explains Bishop Hying. “And when we live in gratitude, we will always be joyful, happy, generous, not jealous, not angry, because we see what’s there instead of what isn’t there.”
“It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father most holy.” – Eucharistic Prayer II
Listen to the segment with Bishop Hying:
Tune in to Morning Air® weekdays at 5-8am CT only on Relevant Radio®.