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Gratitude: It’s More Than a Feeling, But It’s Not Less

You don’t want me to tell you to be thankful for your many blessings. You’ve known that since you were a kid. Your mom probably made the point every time your appetite waned while the vegetables on your plate remained. Somehow the thought of poverty in China and India was supposed to light a spark of gratitude in your heart.

We Have More Than Most

But facts are facts. If you’re reading this, chances are you enjoy more wealth, health, personal freedom, and leisure time than 99% of humans throughout history. In the U.S., our grandparents in 1960 spent almost 18 percent of their income on food. On average, each of us spends less than 10 percent today. In 2016, when most Americans thought things were falling apart, the absolute and average net worth of U.S. households reached an all-time high. The bounty isn’t just enjoyed by the one percent. If you make at least $32,400 a year, you’re in the top half of American incomes but in the top 1 percent of income earners worldwide.

Even if none of that were true, though, every second of your life depends on God upholding it. God’s gratuitous love is everywhere. It’s beyond counting. A priest reminded me of this yesterday in confession. I already knew it. But it still felt like a revelation, like something I’d forgotten.

The American founders thought that we could know by reason alone that we have duties to God. If that’s right, then you know you should be thankful, even if your mom never mentioned the starving children in China and India. Even if you didn’t grow up going to church and Sunday School.

“Gratitude,” said Blessed Solanus Casey, “is the first sign of a thinking, rational creature.”

And in 2017, when the last embers of faith are being extinguished from the public square, we still have a national holiday to thank God for His blessings.

Read more at The Stream. 

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