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As always, if we familiarize ourselves with the saints, we can discover pathways to holiness by these remarkable men and women who had infused their lives with Gospel-derived values and acted accordingly, most often heroically. No matter our situation in life, there are saints who emerged from similar backgrounds, who conquered the same, seemingly intractable, challenges, and lived lives resplendent with Christian charity.

One of the common links that we can observe in examining the lives of these saints is their grasp of gratitude. Whatever they focused upon in their lives, whether they were founders of religious orders or simple spouses, desert ascetics or authors of the most profound theological treatises, each knew that all their gifts came from God. Further, every saint knew it was important to share these gifts as an integral component of that biblical injunction to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Saint Paul instructs us as he did the elders of Ephesus, “ And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, “It is more blessed to give than receive.’” (Acts 20:32-35)

As we embrace this time for spiritual growth, we can benefit by integrating our generosity into our development, rather than allowing a merely secular search for gifts to interfere with it. A focus on gratitude for our blessings enables us to sift through the sands of selfishness and discover the wonder of the season.