G. K. Chesterton on wonder and gratitude….


“Gratitude, being nearly the greatest of human duties, is also nearly the most difficult.”  


This line from G. K. Chesterton is in “Christmas and Salesmanship,” a short essay published just before Christmas, 1935.  Here are a few other quotes that I’ve collected, all characteristic of the wit and wisdom that we expect from Mr. Chesterton.  (Sorry, some of the quotes I’ve collected from the Web don’t have citations but do come from reliable sources, such as James Schall.)



The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.
~ Tremendous Trifles (1909)


I do not, in my private capacity, believe that a baby gets his best physical food by sucking his thumb; nor that a man gets his best moral food by sucking his soul, and denying its dependence on God or other good things. I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ A Short History of England (1917)


[T]he chief idea of my life … is the idea of taking things with gratitude, and not taking things for granted.
~ Autobiography (1936)


The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.
~ Autobiography (1936)


When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.


When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?




Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?


“Saying Grace”


You say grace before meals.

All right.

But I say grace before the play and the opera,

And grace before the concert and the pantomime,

And grace before I open a book,

And grace before sketching, painting,

Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;

And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.



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One Response to “G. K. Chesterton on wonder and gratitude….”

  1. Chesterton desperately needs to be read in this age of entitlement; and it not just left-wing Democrats, who think they are entitled to a welfare state. We American Christians have conflated the Gospel with secular prosperity. Our children begin to learn it from early on from the cartoons they watch on TV. When we teach them the world’s ways of success, is it any wonder that they drop out as teens and young adults. I agree with Christian sociologist Christian Smith: that what passes for much “Christianity” in America now is a kind of “moral therapeutic deism.” This makes it hard to have gratitude when our earthly circumstances are not going well.