Holy gratitude is distinct from ordinary gratitude in that its object is divine. That means God. But it also means God insofar as He is present in his Angels and Saints, and in Creation. Holy Gratitude isn’t merely a sentiment that wells up spontaneously, though this can happen. Holy Gratitude rather is a discipline, it is a way of life that refuses to take the presence, power, and wisdom of God for granted.
It is marked by a few distinguishing features: 1) The actual consistent (preferably twice daily) practice of meditating upon God the Holy Trinity and His Works to come to a deeper realization of how great He is and our indebtedness to him. 2) Writing down and/or vocalizing directly to Him precisely what we are grateful for. 3) Living as if we are grateful, the distinguishing mark of this is loyalty to His known will.
Holy Gratitude is a path, a way of life, a way to overcome the cynicism and pessimism of our time. It doesn’t deny the presence of sin in the flesh, and the World, but recognizing these it is all the more grateful to have the source of grace and life in God that overcomes these.
There was a story I heard one time about an Alaskan fisherman who was early in recovery from intense and destructive alcoholism. He attended a support group where a woman who had more experience in the spirituality of living sober looked at him and said, “you better get grateful, or you’re going to get drunk.”
And isn’t this true for everyone of us – whatever our vices may be. If we are not thankful to God our agendas and schemes have eclipsed His holy will and we are headed for trouble. Holy Gratitude is a path, it requires asceticism, i.e. training and practice. The more we practice it concretely the more it will be manifest in our hearts and overcome our obsession with what is wrong with ourselves and others.