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A Spirit of Gratefulness Can Be Life-Changing, Muto Says

February 9, 2018

It’s providential that a book on gratefulness is being released during a time of intense division in the United States. In Gratefulness: The Habit of a Grace-Filled Life, Susan Muto, executive director of the Epiphany Association, explores how life-changing a spirit of gratefulness can be by using both personal and well-known examples of the struggles and rewards of grateful living.

Muto and companions such as Julian of Norwich, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Henri J. M. Nouwen, and Dorothy Day highlight the power of gratitude as a grace from God and walk with us as we learn to practice thankfulness.

Muto also shares about the benefits of positivity and dangers of negativity, the redemptive power of prayer, and the lasting fruits of thankfulness.

She talked more about the book in this Q&A with Ave Maria Press:

Ave Maria Press: What inspired you to write Gratefulness?

Susan Muto: The answer is simple.  On a personal note I want to be a more grateful person, and I ask God daily to grant me this grace. On a second note, I seemed to have reached a point where I cannot bear the blanket of negativity that covers so much of our culture today. Bad news.  Hatred. Bitter complaints. All breed the poison of negativity.  It concerns me, and it ought to concern everyone who reads this book. We need to honor scripture and proclaim the Good News; love one another as God loves us; and find at least one reason everyday to be grateful.  

 

Ave: What is the most important message you want readers to walk away from the book with?

Muto: I want to arm readers with the conviction that to be grateful is not to be "pollyannish," but to be proponents of a positive approach to life that is good for their health (research reveals that negativity and stress erode our immune system) and an excellent way to promote a holier life (positivity lightens every burden life puts upon us).  In brief, the main message of this book is: A grateful heart will change your life for the better.

 

Ave: Why is the topic of gratefulness so critical now?

Muto: Each time we turn on the television or read a newspaper or browse social media, we can feel descending upon us the heavy weight of nets of negativity that can result in low-grade depression and a devilish feeling of hopelessness. We must ask ourselves if we have the courage to trust in the Lord and be thankful; to respect life on all levels; and to truly believe that goodness prevails over evil. Gratefulness may not come as naturally to us as ungratefulness. That is why we need to ask God for this grace. As I try to show in my book, we also need to consult the companions of grateful living God has given us in the saints, the mystics, and the spiritual masters both alive and well from ancient to modern times.

 

Ave: Why are the saints and mystics good models of gratefulness? Is there one in particular whom you connect with more than others?

Muto: These stellar souls prove the point that to place God first in our life is to choose to be loving, not hateful, like St. John of the Cross; generous, not greedy like Dorothy Day; self-giving, not self-serving, like St. Vincent de Paul.

Deeply impressive to me was the life and writing of the fourteenth-century English mystic Julian of Norwich. Etched on my heart for many years and penned in this book are her wonderfully appreciative words, "All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well." Such is the habit of a grace-filled life and such is the physically, emotional, and spiritual wellness and happiness it yields. May every reader of Gratefulness benefit from this legacy and pass it on to the next generation of the grateful and gracious people of God.

 

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