Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Last month's Crisis Magazine had a great article on friendship by Dr. Alice VonHildebrand (now available online here). One major section is about giving and receiving and gratitude between friends. Here's a piece:

One of the great dangers in friendship is to exchange roles, as it were. The giver should downplay his sacrifice: “I was happy to do so.” And the receiver should carefully refrain from minimizing or demeaning the gift received. From this point of view, the desirable response of the giver should be the very opposite response of the beneficiary. Too often, people reverse these roles. Some givers like to magnify their efforts or their gifts, and the receiver can be tempted to play them down. This is unfortunate, because a generous friend will give with such kindness (and even joy) that it is tempting for the other to say, “But he was just happy to do it.”

...Yet we should still wish that the other shows some gratitude, because gratitude makes the soul beautiful. This precious little word is one of the three golden keys of friendship and marriage. In our world today the sweet music of “Thank you” is seldom heard. Years ago, it was so ingrained in the education of children that, as soon as they received a gift, they knew that they had to thank. Today the words are out of fashion. Consumerism has ruined this cord in the human soul; the more we get, the more we want, and the less we appreciate what we receive. ...

Expressions of gratitude and affection cannot be said or heard too often. Think of the sacred repetitions at Holy Mass. There are many of them (even though some have been eliminated since Vatican II), and they are so deeply meaningful. Domine non sum dignus used to be repeated three times. Can it be repeated too often?

I have some great friends-more than can deserved by any one man. Yet in reading the entire article (do so yourself-at first it seems just all common sense, but it does call you to examine your own attitudes and friendships) I found myself lacking in some areas...

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