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The Transformative Power of Gratitude

During this Year of Faith, we will blog reflections and stories to accompany you on your faith journey.
“Give thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” – Ephesians 5:20
The rule of St. Benedict prescribes that the doorkeeper shall say “Deo gratias’’ whenever a stranger knocks at the door or a beggar asks for assistance.
Recently, I was at the door of the convent at dusk, with my keys in my hand, when I was approached by a woman begging for money. I am always conflicted in these situations, but after a long conversation, I gave her five dollars. It wasn’t until after she left that I said, “Thanks be to God,” using the expression, as I usually do, more as a sigh of relief than as an expression of profound gratitude.
My response to the woman at the convent door fell way short of Benedict’s ideal or St. Paul’s admonition to give thanks always, in everything and, I would add, in everyone.
Expressing gratitude at Mass
At Mass we say the words “Thanks be to God” after the first and second readings, expressing our gratitude for the word of God we have received. We still use those words, “Thanks be to God,” when we respond to the new dismissals at Mass. We are expressing our gratitude for the graces received at Mass and for the call to live a eucharistic life.
Whichever new form of the dismissal is used, the meaning is the same: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”—a life of praise and gratitude.
Let your gratitude lead you
The dismissal calls us to show our gratefulness for the graces we have received by how we live the gospel after Mass, after we have left the church. These words that send us forth from Eucharist change our direction. They grab us by the shoulders and turn us away from the altar, pointing us to the open door of the church and into the world. It is into the world that we are sent to seek and follow Christ, bringing God’s compassionate and gracious love to all.
The last words we speak at Mass sum up our response to such good news: “Thanks be to God.” May these words help us to stop, to notice, to appreciate our daily blessings, and, most importantly, to give thanks always and in everything and everyone. Gratitude on our lips has the power to transform our hearts.
Suggestions for Prayer:
  – Cultivate an attitude of gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal, regularly writing down those things for which you are grateful.
  – The next time you encounter a person begging or someone who has interrupted an important task in which you are engaged, thank God for the person and the interruption.
Reprinted with permission from Living with Christ. For more information or to subscribe, visit or call 1-800-214-3386.
Sr. Terry is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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One Response to “The Transformative Power of Gratitude”

  1. John Bartelloni says:

    Dear Sister Terry,

    You are not alone in being conflicted in such situations. I too share your feelings. There is a difference between helping someone out and enabling that person to continue living an unhealthy lifestyle and making errant choices.

    When possible, I try to buy a beggar food rather than provide cash. Doing so is not always possible.


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