Every year LA’s Religious Education Congress is my way to renew my faith. As I travelled there this March, I felt concerned that my family and I tended to focus on bad things that happened each day. While I have had a great tradition of saying the rosary, I wasn’t very consistent with my other prayer practice of writing in a prayer journal (ironic for a writer).
But it’s beautiful that the Holy Spirit always helps. I attended a talk by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, and one of the first things he said is that the best way to be holy is to be grateful. How simple and easy this could be. I would have thought holiness required great sacrifice or acts of significant compassion.
I actually wasn’t sure that I believed him. But then he gave the example of St. Therese, one of my favorite saints, who lived, what on the surface seemed to be a very ordinary life, but who always recognized the divinity in each moment. And I suppose that is what gratitude is, understanding the grace that is present in each moment that we are so fortunate to encounter.
After this wonderful inspiration at RE Congress, I had to become practical. How could I make sure gratitude didn’t get shoved off my to-do list? I needed to find a way to put it on my phone. I found a fantastic app: Gratitude Journal 365 Pro, which at $1.99 is worth it.
With the app, you can write a short bullet list of “gratitudes” for each day and include a photo (or not). What I like is that the gratitude can be just a few quick words. Sometimes my photo is as simple as a restaurant sign.
Then, I can go back and look at a calendar view and see tiny thumbnail photos of all my gratitudes. A dot indicates when I’ve added text only. I can also look at individual days or a list view.
Here are some ways gratitude has happened for me:
But what happens when there is just a bad day? Sometimes, I’ve created a gratitude moment. I thought at first that was artificial—until I realized it became meaningful for someone else. On a Monday, nothing particularly special had happened at work. I hadn’t seen anything beautiful in nature. It was just a blah day. I had nothing to enter in my gratitude journal. Then I had the idea that I could set out a candle and flower at dinner. My daughter lit up despite the bland Mondayness. Suddenly we had a gratitude moment!
I wish that you will encounter many of them.
I'm Sherry Weaver Smith, author of The Wolf and the Shield: An Adventure with Saint Patrick. I like to have adventures in getting outside in nature, crafting, and cooking as I explore our Catholic faith with my daughter. We want to be inspired by the saints!