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What the Holy Fathers Tell Us About Gratitude

“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:17

For those of us who are in Christ, we have countless reasons to be grateful – for God’s grace, for the gift of salvation, for the many blessings we know in the Lord. But how does the practice of gratitude make a difference in our lives? As we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Thanksgiving, we invite you to reflect upon the wisdom of the holy fathers on the practice of gratitude and its place in the Christian life.

Pope Francis bows his head in prayer at the Basilica

Thanksgiving Draws Us Closer to God

“Awareness of the marvels that the Lord has wrought for our salvation disposes our minds and hearts to an attitude of thanksgiving to God for all that he has given us, for all that he has accomplished for the good of his people and for the whole of humanity. This marks the beginning of our conversion: it is the grateful response to the stupendous mystery of God’s love. When we see the love that God has for us, we feel the desire to draw close to him: this is conversion.”– Pope Francis in his St. Peter’s Square Address on March 5, 2014

Thanksgiving Fosters Joy

“Joy springs from a grateful heart… [It] is spontaneously impelled to serve the Lord and to find expression in a life of commitment to our work. Once we realize how much God has given us, we learn that a life of sacrifice, of working for him and for others, becomes a privileged way, a privileged way of responding to his great love.” – Pope Francis in his NYC Vespers Reflection

The Apostle St. Paul says to the Thessalonians: ‘Brothers, rejoice always.’ And how can I rejoice? He says: ‘pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances.’ We find our Christian joy in prayer, it comes from prayer and from giving thanks to God.”
– Pope Francis in his Homily on December 14, 2014 Homily

Pope John Paul II at Basilica in 1969
Pope John Paul II with Monsignor William F. McDonough, 6th Director of the National Shrine, on his first visit to the shrine in 1969

Thanksgiving Acts as a Recognition of Grace

“The prayer of thanksgiving always begins from here: from the recognition that grace precedes us. We were thought of before we learned how to think; we were loved before we learned how to love; we were desired before our hearts conceived a desire. If we view life like this, then ‘thank you’ becomes the driving force of our day. And how often we even forget to say ‘thank you.’” – Pope Francis in his Speech at the Library of the Apostolic Palace

Thanksgiving as a Way of Life

“Remember the past with gratitude… live the present with enthusiasm, and… look forward to the future with confidence.” – Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte

“To be able to offer thanks, to be able to praise the Lord for what He has done for us: this is important! So we can ask ourselves: Are we capable of saying ‘thank you’? How many times do we say ‘thank you’ in our family, our community, and in the church? How many times do we say ‘thank you’ to those who help us, to those close to us, to those who accompany us through life? Often we take everything for granted… may [we] always come back to Jesus and express our thanks for the many benefits we have received from His mercy.” – Pope Francis in his Marian Jubilee Address in St. Peter’s Square

What is the origin of the devotion to Our Mother of Divine Providence?
The 2022 National Shrine Shops Christmas Collection