The other night I was talking with Bill, the Director of Communications for the Province of St. Albert the Great, about sports and preaching. While we were talking about this we discussed the differences of athletes in each generation and then just generations in general. We talked about the differences in communication, education, work habits. We talked about the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials. Bill then turned to me and said, “You know the difference between the generations? It is the amount of gratitude that each has experienced.” I stood shocked, knowing that I was part of the young generation not nearly as thankful as previous generations; I knew that Bill was right. This is not to say previous generations were always thankful or those in my generation are not grateful, but I tend to look at how much we have and how ungrateful our society has become. There are many things that contribute to this but I think this article “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy” from the Huffington Post paints a good picture about expectations that are nearly impossible.
After this conversation I thought about gratitude and realized there are many things to be grateful for: having food, drink and shelter, the ability to receive an education, to have family and friends. Many of us in the United States for the most part have these in smaller and greater quantities. While in chapel I began to ponder to whom I ought be most grateful for. I looked at the tabernacle and knew it is God to whom our gratitude most belongs. In the Summa Theologiae, under the question of Thankfulness or Gratitude (IIa-IIae, Q. 105, Art. 1, co.) Aquinas says that the “cause of [our] debt is found primarily and chiefly in God”. How much we forget to give gratitude to God for all that we have, even if we think it is not much. He gave us the opportunity to live, to think, to feel. Even when we rejected God, He gave of Himself, His only Son for the redemption of our sins, and the Holy Spirit to guide us.
In Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians, Paul states “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” No doubt there will be times of great sorrows in our lives, but we experience these sorrows because we have been given something. We realize we have lost something or are not able to obtain something, but let us be glad that we have or had something. When we lose that something, let us fill it with God’s love, so that when we lose everything we may be in complete joy, because all we will have is God.