This week I celebrated my minivan reaching 100,000 miles with my family.  They celebrated and I dreaded the idea of having to buy a new car sometime soon.  This leads me to the Toyota Sienna as a possible solution.  Not my first choice, but perhaps the best choice for a husband and father of four.  Now, the Sienna is named after the Italian city which happens to be the home of St. Catherine of Siena.  I like the idea of this minivan even more now because it’s Italian-inspired and connected to a Doctor of the Church, who famously said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

It is also “Time after Pentecost” and perhaps the best time to “show our neighbors the love we have for God (St. Catherine).”  How do we accomplish this here and now?  The gift of myself?

For starters, everything is a gift, in fact, “all good giving and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).  Therefore, a spiritual gift, or charism, is something specifically from God, through the Holy Spirit, for the good of the Church in support of the Christian community.  God is a Gift-Giver and intends to bless us, and those around us, through an exchange of gifts.  Everyone then, has some gift that can be used for the benefit of the community.  Whether it be big or small, extraordinary or ordinary, it is intended to express God’s love through you and me for the benefit of others. 

This is great news, in fact, it’s like Christmas morning every morning whenever I consider the gift of grace that God lays out within me.  Consider this “Christmas in July,” whereas I take a moment to deeply reflect upon what God has given me and perhaps how He intends me to give it away (not unlike St. Nicholas, who may inspire us to give the gift of yourself rather than getting an early start on Christmas shopping.

A charism is grace freely given and must always be discerned.  It is a call to prayerful silence and reflection.  An opportunity to discover His story within me.  A story that I can share in and through my life.  It brings to mind the excitement and anticipation of unwrapping a gift with the assurance that Advent leads to the glory of Christmas.  God always delivers!  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7.  Discerning your charisms can help you discover your vocation to love and draw you into the love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Practically speaking, it can give you clarity of purpose as you navigate life and respond to the inevitable decisions and transitions with gratitude and holy action.

A gift is an invitation to faithfully use.  Again, like Christmas morning, the exchange of gifts is ultimately a challenge of using the gifts we have received.  We receive socks from mom, handknit sweaters from aunts, and [insert gift(s) from your experience] that are hit or miss.  At best they are re-gifted or given away, but then they lose the personal touch and intention to bless.  God never misses, the spiritual gifts He gives always fit, again, James 1:17, “perfect gift.”  

Many unopened gifts are spread out before you and “as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” 1 Peter 4:10.  The gift we have received is the gift we share.  Always bring a gift, your gift, “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).