Before you read this, I’d recommend doing three things. First, make sure you have five minutes for this exercise. Second, find a quiet space to concentrate. Third, invite the Holy Spirit to be part of this exercise. (If you don’t have the time now, cut this article out, hang it on your refrigerator and do it later.) The instructions are simple. Read, close your eyes and relax. Here goes:
Think of all the people that God has put in your life over the years: classmates, teammates, neighborhood friends, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, choir director, priests, deacons, religious sisters, teachers and coaches, work colleagues, supervisors, children you coached, fellow parishioners or anyone else.
Now, think about the family members God has given you: great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, mom and dad, stepmom and stepdad, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, husband, wife, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, son-in-law and daughter-in-law.
God has put many great people in our lives.
Now, think of all the talents, skills and abilities God has given you: coaching, teaching, playing sports, hunting, fishing, singing, playing a musical instrument, cooking, telling jokes, making people feel welcome, writing, sewing, painting, public speaking, sharing your faith, praying, organizing or any other ability.
God has given us many talents and abilities.
Now, think how your God-given talents have allowed you to provide food, shelter, clothing and transportation to you and your family. Maybe you never go hungry and always have a full stomach. Maybe you have a house or an apartment. Maybe you have plenty of clothes and can shop whenever you want. Maybe you own a car (or two). Maybe you own a boat. Maybe you go on vacation every year. Maybe all your student loans are paid off.
God has given us many material possessions.
When you think about it, regardless of our own individual circumstances, we all have a lot to be grateful for. Unfortunately, many of us do not take the time to simply recognize the all the gifts we are given every single day.
Recognizing the gifts we are given is the foundation for a personal relationship with God. This is the beginning of a fruitful prayer life. This is the start of living a grateful and generous life. This gives us the ability to see all the miracles that happen daily. This puts us on the path to becoming saints.
Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County.