Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gratitude and Humility

Since I wrote the post about humility, I went to confession...Not that interesting in and of itself, although I will say that the act of confession definitely helps with the whole "I'm trying to stay humble" thing.  It also helps with gratitude, at least for me--every time I screw up, confession reminds me of how very blessed I am in such a Merciful Savior!

When I go to confession, I really like to go to a parish near the center of town--in part, because it offers confession every weekday morning from 7:30a-8:00a, so it is convenient.  I also like going there because this particular parish is run by the Jesuits, and some of my best confessions have happened with the priests there (some of my more lackluster ones as well, but the good ones way outnumber the bad ones!).  That morning, I got a priest that I had never talked to before, and the interesting thing was that, after I had confessed my sins, he asked me what grace I was seeking from the Lord, then gave me several examples like humility, patience, gratitude, etc.  I replied by saying that there were so many graces that I need, and that it is hard to choose, but that I'd like to cultivate more gratitude in my life.  I then made the same argument as my last post--that one needs humility to be able to be grateful.

In turn, he turned the whole argument on its head.  His premise was that gratitude comes first, and that humility grows out of gratitude because we are seeing the blessings that God has given us...that the act of seeing the gifts we have for what they are--gifts that we did not earn--we are able to see ourselves with the right attitude and will be able to see ourselves as God sees us.

I find myself most grateful before the Blessed Sacrament...

Since then, I have been contemplating what the priest said, and I'm not sure that either of us are entirely wrong.  Really, it seems to come down to what sin you are more prone to--envy, or pride?  All of us can see that humility is really the virtue that is the antidote to pride, and the priest pointed to the fact that gratitude is the antidote to envy. No matter what, I think that these two virtues are incredibly intertwined, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on their relationship.

Personally, I probably gravitate more toward pride than envy, so I'm thinking that pride is the major barrier for both humility and gratitude in my, I'm thinking that humility is really where I need to focus my attention, and gratitude will follow.  However, the idea of focusing on gratitude appeals to me because it seems like a gentler way of creating humility--I HATE the breaking that usually comes in asking for humility.  Having the Lord excise pride is painful!  And yet, when I can recognize what He is doing, it is easier to handle because I can see how it makes me more like Him.  I just don't usually see it until WAAAY after the fact.

May the Lord teach me how to do this!