Apostolic Tracts What are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit Part 1

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What are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Part 1

We cannot talk about the Holy Spirit without talking about the various gifts of the Holy Spirit. We read in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians: “There are different gifts but the same Spirit; there are different ministries but the same Lord; there are different works but the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

First of all, we need to distinguish the gifts from the ministries and works, even though they are evidence of the power of the same Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are different from the natural talents which come through birth and acquired skills which come through development. The source of the spiritual gifts, works and ministries flow from the anointing power of the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, the gifts of the Spirit are divided into two main categories:
· Sanctifying gifts: wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).
· Charismatic gifts: words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy,  distinguishing of spirit, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues and exhortation (1 Corinthians 12:8-11 and Romans 12:8). (This list is not meant to be exhaustive.)

Thirdly, the charismatic ministries are identified as:
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers (Ephesians 4:11). (This list also is not meant to be exhaustive.)

Fourthly, the charismatic works are described as:
· Service (1 Peter 4:11)
· Giving, leadership, mercy, almsgiving (Romans 12:8)

We want to begin to look at the sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).

We read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC): “The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit” (CCC No. 1830).

When we are baptized, we become adopted sons and daughters of God, sharing his own divine life. We were anointed with the Oil of Chrism as an external sign of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit which we receive are given to enable us to grow in our new life as sons and daughters of the Father, to grow in holiness.

The first four of the sanctifying gifts (wisdom, knowledge, understanding and counsel) help our minds to know God and the revealed truths he has given us in his Word so as to grow in our relationship with him.

1. Wisdom: This gift of the Spirit enables one to see things from God’s perspective, that is “what is good, pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).  According to the Scriptures, “the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.” Once there is a relationship with God initiated in baptism and   nurtured through the other sacraments and once God begins to be the All in All in our lives, then we, through the gift of wisdom seek to perceive things through the eyes of God. We look at reality through the lens of God’s revelation and insight.

“Yet God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit. The Spirit scrutinizes all matters, even the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).

2. Knowledge: This gift of the Spirit enables one to recognize and accept with conviction the revealed truths given by God. Through this gift one is able to know what is of God and what is not: to know what leads to eternal life and what does not. This gift was manifested by the scribe who asked Jesus what was the greatest of the Commandments. Jesus responded: to love God with your whole mind, heart and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. The gift of knowledge was given the scribe who affirmed and accepted the insight Jesus gave him as what he needed to hear.

“May he enlighten your innermost vision that you may know the great hope to which he has called you, the wealth of his glorious heritage to be distributed among the members of the church!” (Ephesians 1:18).

3. Understanding: As one reflects on the Word of God this gift of the Spirit gives the person greater clarity and insight into the revealed mysteries of God. The individual is more freely and fully able to penetrate into the truths that will lead one to a deeper life with God.

“May he strengthen you inwardly through the working of his Spirit…. thus you will be able to grasp fully … the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love” (Ephesians 3:16, 18).

4. Counsel: This gift enable one to see and choose correctly what will help the person to make the right decisions in life. These are the decisions which truly give glory to God and lead me correctly on the journey to eternal life with God. Counsel empowers the individual to choose the way of the Lord, the way that leads to eternal life, not the way of the wicked or the way that leads to eternal death. Counsel enables one to receive the word of God concerning right living that comes from others.

“It is given to the Christian to enlighten the conscience in moral choices which daily life presents … . (it also enlightens one to choose correctly) what to do, especially when it is a matter of important choices (for example, of responding to a vocation), or about a path to be followed among difficulties and obstacle” (John Paul II).

The last three gifts (fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord) are those gifts which assist one’s will and strengthen the person to love God more ardently.

1. Fortitude: This gift of the Spirit strengthens one to remain faithful to God when confronted by temptations. It is the gift of courage that comes from God to overcome the assaults of the world, the flesh and the devil which threaten one’s relationship with God and ultimately the person’s eternal salvation.

“By the might of his glory you will be   endowed with the strength needed to stand fast, even to endure joyfully whatever may come, giving thanks to the Father for having made you worthy to share the lot of the saints in light” (1 Corinthians 1:11).

2. Piety: This gift of the Spirit enables one to fall more and more in love with God. It empowers the person to think, say and do what pleases the Lord simply out of filial love and devotion. More and more through this gift the individual grows to love God with one’s whole mind, soul and strength. At the same time, the gift enables one to truly love others as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

“With the gift of piety the Spirit infuses into the believer a new capacity for love of the brethren, making his heart participate in some manner in the very meekness of the Heart of Christ” (John Paul II).

3. Fear of the Lord: The word fear here is not our human fear of things or others because something bad could happen to the person. The biblical understanding of “Fear of the Lord” rather is that of being in awe and wonder in the divine presence of the One who is almighty, everlasting, infinite, other, etc. On one’s own, the person could not be in the presence of God, but through the gift of the Spirit, one can come into the presence of God, unworthy and imperfect, and not be afraid. Fear of the Lord enables the individual to truly gaze on the   loveliness of God with an attitude of worship, adoration, thanksgiving and praise, even as the person acknowledges a sinful past.

“It is a sincere and reverential feeling that a person experiences before the tremendous majesty of God … . (The person comes) with faith in the divine mercy and with the certitude of the fatherly concern of God who wills the eternal salvation of each one. With this gift, however, the Holy Spirit instills in the soul most of all a filial love which is a sentiment rooted in love of God. The soul is now concerned not to displease God, whom he loves as a Father, not to offend him in anything” (John Paul II).

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