The Discipline of Thankfulness
St. Benedict Orthodox Church
Celebrating in the Western Rite
of the Antiochian Jurisdiction
One of the fundamental virtues of the spiritual life is contentment. This virtue stems from
hearts that have learned to be grateful for what they have, which live for Christ rather than
for what they can gain materially, which have removed complaining from their lives, which
note what they have rather than what they don’t have, focus upon the good in every life
situation rather than the negative, and which thank God continually for His blessings. The
latter, giving thanks, is the key to attaining the virtue of contentment.

We all talk of “giving thanks” in November of every year, but I suspect that most of us are
only thinking of being thankful for the immediate pleasures of family, friends, a sumptuous
meal and good football. Truly giving thanks is far deeper than our yearly celebration would
imply.

To learn to “give thanks in all things,” as St. Paul admonishes us, is a discipline which is
practiced and learned. It involves actions which must be exercised repeatedly in order for it
to instill in us true thankfulness and the virtue of contentment. What are these exercises?

A first discipline is to pray repeatedly for a grateful and unassuming heart. We sinners are
essentially self-oriented, and we tend to judge our quality of life on the basis of the quantity
of our material possessions and the degree of self-satisfaction we have attained. Inherent in
this viewpoint is an essential dissatisfaction with our current state and a longing for
something more. Substantively, that something more is contentment, rather than self-
satisfaction and material possessions. Our first step toward contentment is to pray for
thankful hearts.


A second discipline is to make it an action of our lives to regularly identify all of our
“blessings.” That is, we should make a list of the things for which we could or should be
grateful; at a regular time, be it daily or weekly, review that list. By doing this one might find
himself quite surprised; this list can often be quite lengthy.
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The Orthodox Church is evangelical, but not Protestant.
It is orthodox, but not Jewish. It is catholic, but not Roman.
It is not non-denominational, it is pre-denominational.
It has believed, taught, preserved, defended, and died for the Faith of the Apostles
since the Day of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago in 33 A.D.
St. Benedict of Nursia Orthodox Church
St. Benedict of Nursia
St. Benedict of Nursia Orthodox Church