From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
“Thanksgiving characterizes the prayer of the Church which, in celebrating the Eucharist, reveals and becomes more fully what she is. Indeed, the work of salvation, Christ sets creation free from sin and death to consecrate it anew and make it return to the Father, for his glory. The thanksgiving of the members of the Body participates in that of their Head.” -CCC 2637
“As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving. The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in it: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”; “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” -CCC 2638
I have often wondered why St. Paul frequently begins and ends his letters with thanksgiving. Take a closer look at the letters he wrote to the early Christian communities, you’ll see them dripping in thanksgiving!
Hundreds of years later, St. Ignatius of Loyola picked up where St. Paul left off in his letter writing campaign. Did you know that gratitude is one of the hallmarks of Ignatian spirituality? It was actually one of the initial reasons I was first drawn to Ignatian spirituality in my own relationship with Jesus. St. Ignatius infused in his religious community a spirit of gratitude for all things. When we can practice thanksgiving in our daily lives, it illustrates the point that God is in all things, that His presence is always with us. We just have to remind ourselves.
Sometimes life moves around us at a swirling pace. We’re constantly moving from one thing to the next, and we often miss the signs of God’s presence with us in daily life. St. Ignatius didn’t teach his community that you have to necessarily run to the desert to find God, but that we can actually find God in our everyday living. It doesn’t have to be fancy or flashy.
For some, it may be setting an alarm for the 3 p.m. Hour of Mercy and taking five minutes to pray. For others, it may look like praying the Jesus Prayer to and from work. For some, it may look like reflecting on the question, “Where did I experience God today?” as you brush your teeth at night. For others, it may be counting your daily gratefuls as you nurse the baby or care for a fussy child.
The Examen is a beautiful, simple prayer practice given to the Church through St. Ignatius. One of the steps is to thank God for all the blessings of the day just lived. If you’re not familiar with it, spend some trying on this prayer practice this week as we explore thanksgiving together.
Let Us Pray
Lord, take me further and deeper into understanding the prayer of thanksgiving this week. Holy Spirit, help me stay open to learn what I need most for my own life right now. You lead and I will follow. Amen.
For Your Inspiration
Each week, we will have a special download for each form of prayer: Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (ACTS). Download this week’s printable below.
Patty Breen is midwestern gal from the Mitten state who finds joy in running, Ignatian spirituality, and reading lots of books. She’s a fulltime youth minister whose learning how to find grace in all things. She is passionate about ministry to divorced Catholics and those battling sexual addiction. You can find out more about her here.