Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Cultivating Gratitude & Thanksgiving

I tell my spiritual children, and anyone else who will listen, that we must cultivate in our hearts a spirit of gratitude, of thanksgiving to God for the whole of our life. We are surrounded daily with what, to me as a child anyway, would have been unbelievable riches and technological wonders. How easy it is to take all this for granted rather than, as I think we should, stand in awe at the genius of the human person.

And why should we not see our own genius? We are all of us created in the image of God. And we are all of called by Christ to restore in ourselves by His grace and our own efforts, His likeness.

King David writes in the Psalm 8 about the majesty of God, His creation and the human person:

Psalm 8
O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!
Commenting on this Psalm, St John Chrysostom says, "Taking full account of such marvelous care and such wonderful providence on God's part, and the arrangement he put in place for the salvation of the human race, King David is struck with complete wonder and amazement as to why on earth God considered them worthy of attention."

The saint then continues by asking us to consider that "after all, that all the visible things" are for our sake. It is for us that "the design implemented from the time of Adam up" to the coming of Christ was put in place. All things from God are given to us, for us: "paradise, commandments, punishments, miracles, retribution, kindness after the Law." And of course for us and our salvation, "the Son became Man."

And after all this what "could anyone say of the future [we] are intended to enjoy?"

But we lose all this if we are not able to cultivate in ourselves gratitude and thanksgiving for all that God has given us, things great and small, spiritual and material, eternal and temporal. To that end, I offer for consideration a brief video of the comic Louis CK on Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

h/t: Benedict Seraphim

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