What role does giving thanks play in meditation? How does it work? How should we approach it?

Of Giving Thanks, from Finding God through Meditation, by St. Peter of Alcantara

After meditation follows giving of thanks, the occasion of which must be taken from the matter meditated upon. For example, if the meditation be of the Passion of our Savior, we must give thanks unto him, that he has redeemed us from so great torments. If of sins, that with forbearance he has expected us to do penance. If of the miseries of this life, that he has preserved us from the greatest part of them. If of death, that hitherto, he has defended us from the perils of sudden death and has favorably granted us time of penance. If of the glory of paradise, that he has created us to that end; that after the storms and troubles of this present life, we should enjoy eternal felicity; after this manner, we are to proceed in other meditations. To these benefits, we may join the others which we handled before, to wit, the benefits of our creation, conservation, redemption, and vocation.

As much as in us lies, let us give him thanks: that he has created us after his own image and likeness; that he has given us a memory to remember him; an understanding to know him, and a will to love him; that he has committed us to the custody of angels; that by the help of our angel guardian he has exempted us from many dangers, preserved us from many mortal sins, defended us from death and malice of the devil, while we were in this case, (which was no less than to free us from everlasting death, to which, by sin, we were obnoxious.) That he would vouchsafe to assume our nature upon him and for our sakes suffer a most ignominious death; that we were born of Christian parents; that we were regenerated by Baptism; that in this present life, he has promised grace and unspeakable glory in the world to come; that he has adopted us for his sons; that in the Sacrament of Confirmation, he has fortified us with strong weapons to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil; that he has given himself to us in the Sacrament of the altar; that he has left unto us the Sacrament of Penance, to recover the grace which was lost by mortal sin; that he has visited us daily with good and holy inspirations; that he has given us grace to persevere in holy and pious exercises.

After the same method, we must proceed in accounting other of Almighty God‘s benefits, as well general as particular, and for all, public or private, manifest or secret, give him thanks; and we must invite all creatures, celestial and terrestrial, to bear us company in this holy exercise, singing the song of the three children: “All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever” (Dan 3:57). And the psalm, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all that he hath done for thee. Who forgiveth all thy iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases. Who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with mercy and compassion” (Ps 102:1–4). 

Finding God through Meditation, by St. Peter of Alcantara, brings the wisdom of the great saint into your hands. St. Peter directed St. Teresa of Avila on difficult questions she had about prayer and she turned to this work for guidance.

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