#2: Holy Hummingbirds through Gratitude with St. Teresa of Calcutta

A 2nd way that we can grow in becoming “holy hummingbirds” for Christ like St. Teresa of Calcutta is through practicing the virtue of gratitude.

In my daily celebration of the Mass, one of the most heart-stirring lines of the Eucharistic Prayer for myself is right before the words of consecration:“For on the night he was betrayed, he himself took bread, and, giving you thanks.”

As mentioned in the reflection above, Our Lord’s deliberate choice of “giving thanks” in the midst of betrayal has always left a deep impression on my soul.

On a practical level, we can say that gratitude is an essential virtue that should be practiced in order to develop the “eyes of faith” and see Christ in His distressing disguises in this harsh world is gratitude. It makes sense, right? Since the word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving” in Greek, living gratefully should be a virtue all Eucharistic saints practice. 

Commenting on the practice of gratitude in her own life, Mother Teresa once said: “The best way to show gratitude to God is to accept everything, even my problems, with joy.” 

This choice – to accept everything, even our problems, with joy – is at the heart of the battle between living as a vulture and living as a “holy hummingbird”.

On the one hand, vultures do not live gratefully. They protest and rebel against the problems they see in the harsh environment of this world. Vultures live in a world of competition and are compulsive in their constant need to find “more” in this world – more work, more money, more friends, more of anything this passing world has to offer to fill that inner void. As a result, vultures are angry when their ego is injured and greedy when their desires are frustrated. This might not be immediately perceivable by others, especially for “holy” people like you and me who read and write these types of Catholic books but the inner dispositions of our souls always has a way to to emerge in a numbing of the heart and a cynicism at the state of things in this world.

In direct contrast to this vulture way of life, “holy hummingbirds” live gratefully. They consistently discover the sweet, life-giving nectar of God’s loving presence in the harsh environment of this world. They choose to live by the words of St. Paul: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). They can thank God for everything – good and bad – because they “know that all things work together for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28). 

Just as we know the truth that no one is really excited to see a vulture because it sends a message that something dead and smelly is close by, we know that no one really enjoys – or at least is encouraged – by spending time with those who always focus on and talk about the bad and ugly things of life. 

By contrast, just as we know the truth that everyone is excited to see a hummingbird because it sends a message that something beautiful and sweet is close by, we know that everyone really enjoys – or at least is encouraged – by spending time with those who focus on and talk about the good and beautiful things of life.

Jesus Himself warned us about vultures in Matthew 24:28 when He said: “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Need any more persuasion to no longer be a vulture? Today, let us choose to live gratefully like “holy hummingbirds” for Christ. 

On a practical level, one of my favorite daily devotions that helps me to live more gratefully is called “Ten Finger Gratitude”. In this practice, I simply count one thing that I’m grateful for on each finger and express my gratitude to Jesus: “Jesus, thank you for ________.” Whether I do this during a time of Eucharistic Adoration, after Mass during my thanksgiving, or while trying to fall asleep at night, I always find this practice to be spiritually fruitful. And the more difficult it is to express gratitude, especially on those tough days, the more powerful this practice becomes in developing our “eyes of faith” and allowing the Lord to transform us into “holy hummingbirds”. 

To conclude: What is 1 thing you want to remember from this reflection?

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