Today the Church remembers the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a woman of profound gratitude. Let’s be thankful for Mary’s life and vocation today, but let’s also learn from her.

Gratitude for the gifts of God is essential, yet it can at times be difficult to cultivate and maintain. It’s easy to let ourselves focus on the negatives. Today, try this: spend a minute or two now to recall vividly a gift you have received from God, as Mary did. Let the feeling of gratitude grow within you. Then, throughout the day, when something occurs to make you upset, anxious, or hostile to someone, commit to pausing for a moment to recall this gift of God. You’ll still have to confront whatever is the problem, but you’ll be better off with Mary’s gratitude active within you.

—Timothy E. Kieras, SJ, is a member of USA Central and Southern Province doing special studies in Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.