12 Inspiring Thanksgiving Quotes from Catholic Saints

Jeannie Ewing

12 Inspiring Thanksgiving Quotes from Catholic Saints

1. “In all created things discern the providence and wisdom of God, and in all things give Him thanks.” - St. Teresa of Avila

We know that God reveals Himself through all of creation, but when we are immersed in a natural setting, we may forget that He created everything as a gift for us.  I like to take walks with our dog and breathe in the country air, allowing my senses to be filled with the wonders of creation all around me.  When I see an unusual variety of insects or birds in the spring and summer or marvel at the vibrant colors of the flowers, my heart is filled with wonder and gratitude to God.  It is as if He made each detail of all these wonderful, living things for my enjoyment and care.

2. “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” - St. Ambrose

How tragic that most companies receive more complaints than compliments.  It seems most of us are quick to grouse about problems with a product or service, but when we receive exceptional care, it may go unstated.  St. Ambrose reminds us that it’s not only necessary but urgent to thank others, because thankfulness breeds appreciation and kindness.

3. “A man wanted to do evil, but first prayed as usual; and finding himself prevented by God, he was then extremely thankful.” -St. Mark the Ascetic

Sometimes we perceive life circumstances to be misfortunate, contributing to our demise or preventing us from proceeding with our plans, our hopes and dreams.  In fact, some of these pursuits may masquerade as hidden vices.  When God permits something to happen that frustrates or thwarts our grandiose plans, we believe He is punishing us when, in fact, we should thank Him for drawing us closer to Him through means contrary to our desires.

4. “Prayer is an aspiration of the heart.  It is a simple glance directed to Heaven.  It is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy.” –St. Therese Lisieux

Mental prayer, which the early Carmelites promoted and perfected, certainly may include a simple thought of thanksgiving lifted to God in the heart.  When we love God, we think of Him always with the consideration of His love for us.  This cannot be separated from the truth about who we really are – nothing – in light of the truth about who God is – everything.  St. Therese knew that a grateful heart was one full of prayer that needn’t be uttered in superfluous words.

5. “Out of gratitude and love for Him, we should desire to be reckoned fools.” –St. Ignatius of Loyola

St. Ignatius of Loyola is known for his self-punitive measures as a form of perpetual penance, so perhaps this is why he believed gratitude included not merely an acceptance, but rather a longing to be made a fool.  Though quite radical, we can reflect on the meaning of this quote.  In order to grow in humility, we must first be humiliated, and humility bears the fruit of charity and gratitude.  A heart that loves God is so full that it cannot be contained within itself, and so its thankfulness is expressed through love.  

6. “O my God, let me remember with gratitude and confess to thee thy mercies toward me.” –St. Augustine of Hippo

Jesus belongs to us out of mercy, but we belong to Jesus out of justice.  Love of God requires more than affection and devotion.  It is a total gift of self, which is made in thanksgiving for all that God has done to redeem us in His mercy.  When we are aware of our wretchedness and sinfulness, we then grow in gratitude for all the ways God protects us and gives us chance after chance to return to Him wholeheartedly. Halfway through our 12 inspiring Thanksgiving quotes from Catholic saints and already so much great material to contemplate! /

7. “Remember the past with gratitude.  Live the present with enthusiasm.  Look forward to the future with confidence.” –St. John Paul II

At any given moment, life is but a snapshot of the full picture of our lives.  If we desire holiness above happiness and if we make concerted efforts to grow in our interior lives, we will live in the way St. John Paul II describes here.  We do not recall our past with nostalgia, sadness, or regret, but rather with gratitude for everything God allowed us to experience so that we could deepen our character.  We embrace the present moment with exuberance, too, out of gratitude and hope for what is to come – all in a spirit of thanksgiving.

8. “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.” – St. Gianna Beretta Molla

Life doesn’t happen the way we plan.  I remember this clearly when our daughter, Sarah, was born.  I was so angry that God allowed her to be afflicted with a rare genetic condition that would require a lifetime of surgeries and specialists.  But it was actually in God’s goodness that He made Sarah the way she is, Apert Syndrome and all.  When I live moment to moment instead of in fear or worry about what might or might not happen to her, I appreciate the gift of now.

9. “Thank God ahead of time.” –Bl. Solanus Casey

Although not a saint, but "venerable," what bold confidence we see from this simple, humble Capuchin!  Instead of appreciating what God has already given us, Father Solanus suggests that we thank God for what has not yet transpired.  In essence, we are thanking Him for the good and the bad, the celebrations and tragedies.  We are expressing hope beyond hope, because we know who God is (all good) and that everything we will encounter in the future is cause for gratitude.  Now that’s Thanksgiving.

10. “Gratitude is the first sign of a thinking, rational creature.” –Bl. Solanus Casey

Again, Father Solanus presents his wisdom in a simple sentence.  Animals, plant life, and other living matter cannot express thanks.  They are incapable of it.  Gratitude is what makes us human, and therefore, images of God Himself.  It is this thanksgiving that is the essence of our union with God that differentiates us from the rest of creation.

11. “O God, grant that whatever good things I have, I may share generously with those who have not, and whatever good things I do not have, I may request humbly from those who do.” –St. Thomas Aquinas

This quote captures the spirit of Thanksgiving beautifully.  It’s fitting that we celebrate this American holiday right before the onset of Advent, because we remember that God shows no partiality, and neither should we.  Some people are less fortunate than we are, in which case we should generously share what we have with them.  But in other cases, we are the ones impoverished, so we can humbly approach those who have what we do not and thank them for their kindness.  

12. “Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve You as You deserve.” –St. Ignatius of Loyola  

We serve God when we offer Him the first fruits of our labor.  Almsgiving is not exclusive to monetary donations.  Rather, almsgiving is all the ways we offer our talents and ourselves to those in most need surrounding us.  In this way, we serve God by generously serving others.

 

Generosity is the manifestation of gratitude.  In other words, we are thankful in our hearts and perhaps our outlook on life, but generosity is how we express that thankfulness through works of mercy. Ultimately this is where charity meets gratitude.  In order for gratitude to be cultivated in our souls, we must first be humbled in our acknowledgment that we are not and God is.  Once this occurs, gratitude flourishes through the ways we go forth in our communities and families to love them.  Thanksgiving calls to mind our abundance while at the same time beckoning us to share our sustenance with the marginalized among us.  We thank God for His goodness, carrying in our hearts the spirit of confident hope in Him who gives and takes away.     

What is your favorite quote about gratitude?