Grateful & Generous
Pupils at SSPP are growing to be grateful for their own gifts, for the gift of other people, and for the blessings of each day; and generous with their gifts, becoming men and women for others.
The more you give, the more will be given you. (Luke 6:38)
Gratitude is always Saint Ignatius’ starting point. Before we reflect or pray, discern or make a decision, begin a new day, or embark on anything important, he calls on us to remember everything that we have to be grateful for.
If you are attentive to your own responses to what happens in your daily life, you will probably notice that a lot of it is down to a feeling of entitlement – a feeling that I am due certain things, courtesies, privileges, comforts, rewards, breaks. Ignatius wants us to think and feel in a different way. Instead of insisting on your entitlements, consider rather what has already been gifted to you: your health and family, shelter and security, enough to eat, plentiful clean water, friends, freedom, the rights and protection of the law, your education, talents and pastimes, the love of God in Jesus Christ, and all the small daily blessings that, when noticed, bring joy to life.
Just as Ignatius begins his Spiritual Exercises with gratitude, so he concludes them with generosity. As we become more practised at being grateful, we realise just how gifted and blessed we are, often without really deserving it. Out of this growing realization comes a powerful desire to be generous, “to give and not to count the cost.” Generosity is the inevitable consequence of the practice of gratitude.
St Ignatius had an important principle that deeds were more important than words and so, for him, generosity will show itself better in the things we do for others than in what we say. More often than not, it is the small acts of daily kindness and generosity, putting others before ourselves, which have a greater and deeper impact than the occasional grand gesture.
People who lack generosity are often fearful that they will lose something by giving and be diminished. But those who have experienced the freedom of being generous discover that the opposite is true. The more you give, the more will be given you. (Luke 6:38) Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “Never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather by what you have left.” This is what it means to be big-hearted and truly generous.
We are starting the academic year focussing on the virtues of being grateful and generous.
Autumn is always a busy time in school, children are settling into new classes, getting back into the routines of daily school life. It is the fresh start that some children crave - the chance to begin anew.
It is also the time of year where hold our annual coffee morning for Macmillan Cancer Support. We are always overwhelmed with the generosity shown by our children and their families when they not only make and donate cakes to support this worthwhile cause, but also bring money to buy these donations back!
Autumn 1 also sees us celebrate Harvest Festival. This is another time where the children are encouraged to be outward looking and think about the needs of others. The goods collected at this time are then distributed in the local area to those most in need.
For both of these events we try to get the children to look deeper than just at the donation side of things. Our Year 6 pupils are encouraged to give up their time to serve at the coffee morning and pupils have been taken before to go and see the actual people their Harvest donations impact on, through working with local charities such as 'Project Malachi'.
These are a chance for the children to realise how blessed they are.
Through weekly celebration assemblies, class assemblies and events around the school, there are other opportunities for children to be shown the positive impact of them making use of the talents they have.
Questions for reflection:
How have I been encouraged to identify and celebrate my own gifts and the gifts of others?
Is ‘thank you’ something that is often heard around our school? Are there lots of different kinds of ‘thank you’?
What opportunities can I take to be generous – not just with money but with my time, talents and energy?