An Encouraging Word – Taking things for granted

Father J. Ronald Knott

Father J. Ronald Knott

“There is a neglect of gratitude.” Wisdom 14:26

I have a problem. I like to be generous, but I am growing tired of not being thanked by the people I go out of my way to help.

I know that ideally I should give without the expectation of anything in return, but sometimes I feel like I am doing more harm than good when people keep taking and never bothering to express gratitude.

I am convinced that the real problem is not that I need their gratitude. I feel strongly that they need to express gratitude. I know one thing for sure, I won’t be buying stock in any “thank you card” business any time soon.

I read recently that obesity is growing in our culture, but narcissism is growing even faster. Narcissism is the term used to describe excessive vanity and self-centeredness. The condition was named after a mythological Greek youth named Narcissus who became infatuated with his own reflection in a lake.

He died out of grief for having fallen in love with someone who did not exist outside himself.

Narcissistic personalities tend to unwarranted feelings of self-importance. They expect to be recognized as superior and special, without necessarily demonstrating superior accomplishments.

They exhibit a sense of entitlement, demonstrate grandiosity in their beliefs and behaviors and display a strong need for admiration and entitlement. Narcissism is so prevalent that TIME magazine chose “ME” as the “man of the year” in 2006.

When narcissistic people talk about church attendance, they usually say things like “I don’t go because I don’t get anything out of it.”
“I, I, I!” It’s all about them and what they are entitled to get.

Church attendance is really about giving, not getting — about giving God thanks and praise and learning how to give to, and serve, others.

When narcissistic people talk about marriage, they talk about what it will do for them. They are like the woman in the “Guinness Book of World Records” with the most marriages. When she was asked about it, she said, “All I ever wanted was someone to love me.” No wonder she failed so many times. People who marry successfully marry to be love-givers, not love-getters.

At the seminary, because of our narcissistic culture, we are aware that priesthood is sometimes attractive to young men who think priesthood is a place to be worshipped without having to earn it. We weed them out as soon as possible.

Pope Francis talks a lot about a “self-referential church.” He says that when the church does not look beyond itself, when it is always focused on itself, it gets sick. The church exists to reflect the light of Christ to the world, not to live within herself, of herself and for herself.

Thanksgiving Day is a time to realize that everything is a gift and those gifts need to be acknowledged, not for the good of the giver, but for the good of the receiver.

To read more from Father Knott, visit his new blog: FatherKnott.com.

Father J. Ronald Knott

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