Saturday, December 6, 2014

Being Charitable in the Small Things

St. Nicholas Day in our house these days includes an excited pitter patter of feet making their way down the stairs early in the morning in hopes of finding chocolate that will be permissively eaten before breakfast. I love our family traditions to celebrate this great saint, but lest we forget, St. Nicholas is also dubbed the model of charity.

Today I was pondering the idea of charity in action and what that looks like in our lives. First, here is how Merriam Webster defines 'charity':

1: the act of giving money, food, or other kinds of help to people who are poor, sick, etc.; also : something (such as money or food) that is given to people who are poor, sick, etc.
: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
2 a : generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also : aid given to those in need
b : an institution engaged in relief of the poor
c : public provision for the relief of the needy

And from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1822 Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.
1827 The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which "binds everything together in perfect harmony";105 it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and orders them among themselves; it is the source and the goal of their Christian practice. Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love.
1828 The practice of the moral life animated by charity gives to the Christian the spiritual freedom of the children of God. He no longer stands before God as a slave, in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of him who "first loved us":106
As we live out our Faith integrated in our day to day life, our responding in charity is a way of responding to the love of God. As He has first loved us and shown us the ultimate Sacrifice, we are able to make small sacrifices or giving up the blessings we have received as a way to illustrate our love for Him. Our charity is our response.

How often are we charitable in our thoughts about others, our actions towards others, and our responses to those that frustrate us or get on our nerves? Choosing others over our selves is the ideal, but it's hard. Perhaps if we start with the smaller things, it would become a habit to defer to those around us.

Our grocery store during the holidays has an easy way to bless those in need by adding a small amount to your bill that goes directly to finance a local food bank. Even with it right in my face and in such a convenient way, I still stop and think about if and what I should give.

Today I think of St. Nicholas who went to great lengths to humbly bless others. Heck, he was even climbing down chimneys and sneaking around at night to give to those in need. There are so many small ways in just the day to day we are given the chance to be charitable. Advent is the perfect time to bring this back to the forefront of our minds and put it into practice.

Some ways you could practice being charitable this Advent:

  • Donate a can (or one per member of your family) to a local food drive
  • Let another driver go first when in a crowded situation
  • Making your spouse coffee or breakfast before you leave for work
  • Cleaning the kitchen up for your spouse before you head out
  • Refill the coffee pot at work or Pay for the coffee of the person in line behind you
  • Hearing people out when they need to vent without interrupting or trying to offer advice they don't want
  • Help someone who seems to be struggling carry their groceries
  • Bring a friend who's having a hard week a meal
  • Babysit for a busy mom, so she can get out of the house for a bit
  • Donate time setting up or taking down for a parish activity or event
  • Shovel your neighbor's snowy driveway
  • Keep granola bars in your car to offer to the homeless person you pass on the exit ramp

See, it's really not all that difficult. We are the ones, who by prioritizing ourselves, forget how easy charity can become if we let it be our way of life.

St. Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians puts it as plainly as this: "Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." May we seek to be charitable in the little things this Advent season and always.

And if you're interested to know how we celebrate our feast day of St. Nicholas…

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This post: Being Charitable in the Small Things first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 6 December 2014


  1. Sarah,

    You won the Guadalupe book on my blog! Kindly email me your address and I can get it out to you ASAP! Thanks! Knowloveserve @ gmail

  2. Brilliant. And with little children running around our domestic churches, we need to take advantage of these little things and simple--but important!-- ways to spread charity!


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