How to Feel Gratitude This Thanksgiving

Bob Olney
Community Outreach Coordinator
Catholic Charities

Sometimes it’s difficult to feel thankful.

“Despite the hurts, losses, and disappointments in our lives, we can be ‘thank-FULL’ this Thanksgiving,” said Robert Olney, who presented a mini-retreat about gratitude Nov. 17 at St. Francis Center for Renewal, Bethlehem.

“To help you prepare for Thanksgiving, and to help your family prepare for the holidays, I want to show ways to have more ‘thank-full’ hearts.”

The mini-retreat focused on praying with Scripture, our journey in faith, and particularly what St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi can teach us.

Here are a few ways you can express your gratitude in a Franciscan way.

  • Adopt St. Francis’ words “My God and my all!” as a sacred prayer and repeat it often through the day. This prayer redirects and refocuses our minds, and gently reminds us of God’s presence with us.
  • Spend some quality time in nature. Talk a walk, examine a flower, spend time by a creek. Invite your family to join you. Live the wisdom of St. Francis of Assisi.
  • Gratitude fosters awareness, builds trust, and overcomes anxiety. Over and over in Scripture God tells us “Do not be afraid.”
  • Savor the gifts. Show your family members how God has provided and always will provide. 1 Corinthians 4:7 asks us “What do you have that you have not received?”
  • For the future, if you want to laugh, come to your parish church, St. Francis Center for Renewal or St. Francis Retreat House, Easton in early October for the Blessing of the Animals. Our pets can teach us a lot about gratitude. St. Francis of Assisi is known for great love of animals and all God’s creation.

“May you be grateful and celebrate these holidays and recognize His blessings in our too-often darkened world,” said Olney. Olney is Community Outreach Administrator at Catholic Charities. A certified spiritual director and a board member with St. Francis Center for Renewal, he has led men’s groups and facilitated many parish bereavement groups.


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