by Fr Richard Heilman | November 24, 2016 2:25 PM
“Remember the past with gratitude. Live the present with enthusiasm. Look forward to the future with confidence.” –St. John Paul II
The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals … it helps them connect with God.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. St. Gianna Beretta Molla once said, “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.”
We know that sadness and depression are usually associated with loss or a sense that something is lacking. This can turn one inward and one can become dependent on others to try to fill the hole(s) that person is experiencing. They become caught in a mode of “grasping” for something – anything – that will relieve them of this emptiness they feel inside.
Conversely, when one is filled with gratia – grace – one feels, not only completely satiated, but they have a sense that they have an “overabundance.” Much like the image of a cornucopia, spilling out its abundance, one so filled with gratia feels they have “left-overs” enough to offer to others. They are released from the bondage of “grasping” and free to be a “giver.”
“The rest is gravy” or “That’s gravy” are common expressions that mean, “whatever it is, it is on top of what you expected.” Gravy is an extra on top of your meat and potatoes, something your don’t strictly need, but it is sure nice to have.
We must aspire, by our humility, to be “The Rest is Gravy” children of God. In his Prayer of Surrender, St. Ignatius of Loyola puts it perfectly: “Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me: I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more” … THE REST IS GRAVY.
Get to this place, and your whole life will be filled with joy and love and meaning … and you will have “left-overs” for everyone you meet.
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
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