In the past two days I’ve been reminded of both the gift and fragility of life.
Yesterday, I received an email from a friend asking for prayers because her daughter suffered a miscarriage. What a tremendously painful experience a miscarriage is for parents and the whole family.
This morning, I administered the sacrament of the sick to my dad. He’s having surgery on Monday. Granted, it’s minor surgery, but any time your being put under anesthesia it involves risk and certainly can be frightening.
This afternoon, I received a voicemail from a friend asking me to pray for a man who was rushed to the hospital when a brain aneurism burst. I know this man. He’s married and the father of two young adult sons.
This evening, I received an email from a friend asking me if I would be able to go to the hospital to anoint her mom who was about to undergo emergency surgery.
Life is a gift. Life is fragile.
Because life is a fragile gift, one of the most important elements of our spiritual life ought to be gratitude. We never know what difficulties we will encounter, but each and every day the Lord gives us gifts. So, when we pray, it’s important for us to note those gifts and to offer Him heartfelt thanks.
There’s a reason why St. Ignatius encouraged us to make gratitude the first step in the examen prayer: when we thank the Giver of the gifts, our love for Him increases. Our awareness of His loving presence deepens, and we become more convinced that He’s always with us. There’s not a day that goes by without the Lord showering blessings upon us—we simply need to have the spiritual eyes to see. One of the reasons it’s important to acquire the habit of seeing the daily gifts He gives us is so that when we encounter trials, when we experience the fragility of life, we will not lose sight of His loving care for us.
Yes, life is fragile; so let’s make gratitude a part of our daily prayer so that we become deeply aware of the gift of life. At the beginning of the examen, we simply need to take time to look at the particular gifts of the day. The gifts need not be anything that we consider profound.
For what can we be grateful?
- A good night’s rest
- A beautiful sunrise or sunet
- The kindness shown by the cashier in the check out line
- A productive day at work
- A meeting that went better than expected
- A difficult situation that was resolved peacefully
- An enjoyable evening spent with family or friends
- An enjoyable conversation with a colleague at work
- A fun day with friends on the golf course (something which I’m grateful for today!)
- An answered prayer
When we are grateful, we appreciate the gift of life so much more. We understand that all these gifts are signs of God’s love for us and our love for the Lord increases.
In our prayer, as we note the gifts of the day, we should really do our best to feel gratitude in our hearts. It’s important to experience this gratitude deeply in our hearts so that our love for the Lord increases. Our prayer can be: Lord, I am so grateful that you have blessed me with these gifts today. The gifts that You’ve given me are signs of your love. I am Your child, and You love me so much. Thank You!
Take time now and just thank Him from your heart. Think of three gifts that the Lord has given you today and let the feeling of gratitude well up within you.
To live in holiness, we must live in gratitude. For life is such a gift, life is so fragile…