Week of Gratitude

A Week of Gratitude at People for Others

The next Week of Gratitude begins on May 4, 2015. Join us as we reflect on the many gifts we have received from God.

A Week of Gratitude: The Little Things

This is a guest post by Joe Paprocki.

Joe Paprocki on Gratitude for Week of Gratitude

It’s so easy to be annoyed by the little things. How hard can it be, then, to allow ourselves to be thankful for the little things? This morning, I was on the verge of being completely annoyed by the traffic that made me miss my usual train. Instead, realizing that I was now “early” for the next train, I strolled at a leisurely pace from my parking spot to the train station. I took the time to appreciate the blue skies, the budding trees, the chirping birds, and the cool but warming breeze of spring. Paying attention to and being thankful for these “little” things effectively boxed out the annoyance of missing my usual train that wanted so desperately to win me over and to influence my day.

Gratitude is not fluff. It is serious medicine—an effective antidote to the poisons of annoyance, exasperation, and cynicism that vie for our attention. The positive little things that we can be thankful for each day are no less real than the negative little things that annoy us. They simply don’t clamor as loudly as the negative things do. We need to develop a capability for recognizing the subtle little things for which we are grateful and allow them to use their inherent power to overwhelm the negative. Take a moment to look around (and within) you: what little things are you grateful for at this very moment?

Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press. He has more than 30 years of experience in ministry and has taught at many different levels. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestseller The Catechist’s Toolbox and Under the Influence of Jesus. His newest book is The Catechist’s Backpack, co-authored with Julianne Stanz.

A Week of Gratitude: Age Spots and Polka Dots

This is a guest post by Julianne Stanz.

Julianne Stanz on Gratitude for Week of Gratitude

As a mother of three children under the age of five, I am grateful for daily opportunities to look with fresh eyes on the wonder that unfolds in every day.

Peering into the bathroom mirror one evening, my three-year-old daughter Ava asked what I was doing. “Mommy is looking at some spots on her skin,” I said to her. “Show me them,” she asked. And so, I kneeled on the floor and pointed out some of the age spots that had appeared for the first time over the winter and which greatly displeased me. She took my face in her little hands and said sweetly, “It’s okay Mommy; I love your polka dots,” and kissed my face.

Only a child could see these brown splotches as God’s polka dots on a face. Only a child could teach us the true meaning of how much we are loved and how God truly sees us, precious and beautiful.

There is a French proverb which states that, “Gratitude is the heart’s memory.” I know this to be true, because the memories that are stamped on my heart are moments of deep gratitude to God for giving me these beautiful children to raise and to love.

May these years as a young mother show in a face full of polka dot wisdom and love!

Julianne Stanz is the Director of New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay and a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Catechesis and Evangelization. A popular speaker, storyteller, and author, Julianne is married with three children and spends her time reading, writing, teaching, and collecting beach glass. She is the co-author, with Joe Paprocki, of The Catechist’s Backpack.

A Week of Gratitude: Health Care

This is a guest post by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ.

Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ, on Gratitude for Week of Gratitude

I’m laboriously prepping for a medical procedure. After yet another form asking me for my mailing address, I get a bit grumpy. Why can’t they just look at one of the other 8,000 places I wrote it down?

And then—out of nowhere—I remember the Ireng River. A few weeks ago, my work led me to Karasabai, a remote Jesuit outpost deep in the interior of Guyana, South America. One morning, I accompanied a man suffering with untreated diabetes. His pain had gotten so bad that they sent word to a “nearby” Brazilian hospital across the River Ireng. The hospital said they would send an ambulance to the banks of the river. In the village’s only vehicle, we drove him to the river so that we could paddle him across to the waiting ambulance. But when we arrived, there was no one there. After waiting for over an hour, the group drove the suffering man back home. They would try again later.

Back here in the first world, I am prepping for my procedure which I routinely do because, years ago, doctors found pre-cancerous polyps inside me. Had they not found them, I probably would have died of cancer in my forties.

And so, pass me another medical form and forgive me for my grumpiness. The River Ireng, separating a good man from even basic medical care, reminds me that I’m privileged. The memory humbles me, but also leads me to gratitude.

Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ, serves as novice director for Jesuits in formation and is an acknowledged expert on the topic of prayer and discernment. He is a well-known speaker and the author of Reimagining the Ignatian Examen; God’s Voice Within; God, I Have Issues; and Armchair Mystic. He lives in Grand Coteau, Louisiana.

A Week of Gratitude: Space

This is a guest post by Matt Weber.

Matt Weber on Gratitude for Week of Gratitude

I am currently writing this post from the last seat on an airplane. It is a middle seat, does not recline, and the chair in front of me seems to relish in its ability to recline just a bit more than the others. I am traveling with my wife to my right and my six-pound terrier by my feet, and am kept alert by the sound, smell, and vibrations of a spirited toilet flush every five minutes. I am returning from the Houston rodeo, so of course, I’m wearing the clunkiest cowboy boots in Texas, adding my total height to be six-foot-five. The gentleman to my left is biting his nails while simultaneously challenging me to a game of transcontinental dueling elbows on our shared armrest.

To some degree, we have all been here, whether on a subway ride or in a crowded restaurant, or maybe even some of you are former clowns used to traveling in a tiny automobile. Space is a commodity we often take for granted until it is limited. It is everywhere and shared, coveted and in many cases for sale. For just $80 more, my knees would be happier; for $360 more, I couldn’t even imagine how far I could recline.

Today, give gratitude for the freedom to find space and thrive in it. Whether you choose to kneel down and pray, stretch out those legs, or run circles around your perky little dog, enjoy right now everything that I am not, as the unheralded Economy Minus passenger and toilet gatekeeper for another two and a half hours.

Matt Weber is a Harvard graduate. As a producer for CatholicTV, he hosts a weekly segment called A Word with Weber, which airs internationally to over 10 million viewers. He is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and is the author of Fearing the Stigmata.