Saturday of the First Week
Advent is the perfect time of year to take-on a new practice of gratitude. As we slip into the familiar mode of holiday giving and receiving, creating or renewing a practice of gratitude can be transformative to us and to our communities.
In today’s readings, we learn about two Christian aspects of gratitude. First, we ought to be mindful of our dependence on God, who is the giver of all good things (Is 30:20). Second, what we’ve received isn’t ours to keep, rather our gratitude ought to compel us to pay it forward to the benefit of others (Matt 10:8). In these ways, the practice of gratitude not only becomes an individual activity, but it also ripples into our communities.
While the practice of gratitude is at the heart of Christian transformation, by no means is it a Christian-only endeavor. Claimed as a virtue by each of the world’s major religions, gratitude seems to be more connected to the human disposition than to a particular culture or creed. Today, the insights once assumed by these traditions are being confirmed and advanced with the help of academic disciplines such as psychology, sociology, and neuroscience at institutions such as University of California, Berkeley (e.g. How to cultivate gratitude?).
I recognize the end of the semester seems an inopportune time to propose the taking-on of a new habit, such as practicing gratitude. But on the other hand, it might be the perfect time. Like the towns and villages that Jesus traveled to, we too find ourselves among individuals and communities who are hurting and in desperate need of healing. And whether we locate ourselves in the story as among those on the margins or as among the followers able to help, finding a way to position ourselves in a spirit of gratitude creates new hope, and possibly a new beginning.
-Br. Dan Morgan, OSB '18, Graduate Student (M.A. in Higher Education Leadership)