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Thinking About Gratitude

November 18, 2010

(Originally posted on Studeo on December 4, 2008)

I decided a few days ago that the virtue I personally should work on during the season of Advent is gratitude. True, deep gratitude. The kind that inspires good stewardship and balance and charity. Here are a few tidbits I’ve been thinking about in this regard…

The first was the Gospel from a few Sundays ago (from Matthew 25):

After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’

Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’

Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,’Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.

For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’

The second is from a book I picked up for myself for Christmas, but just haven’t been able to keep my nose out of. It’s called Book of All Saints by Adrienne Von Speyr (Ignatius Press, 2008) and it’s astounding. Adrienne was a mystic who received glimpses of the prayer and spiritual lives of saints and others (including some writers and composers). The work is incredibly powerful. For me it makes a double impression at the same time – the closeness of God’s involvement in human affairs and the realness of the saints. Anyway, the passage I had in mind was from her writing on St. Francis of Assisi:

…his first reaction was always gratitude. He accustomed himself, in everything that happened in his life, always first and foremost to praise and to give thanks, even before he knows what it is, in fact, that he has received, even before he accepts what he receives, looks at it, and gives it shape.

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