Guardian Angels News

Seven Gifts of The Holy Spirit

Posted by Will Pitts on

The Holy Spirit has been one of the core topics of some of our recent Mass celebrations. For example, on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we commemorated when Jesus, after His resurrection, ascended to heaven in the presence of His disciples. One may recall from the Gospel of John (14:15-31) that he promised to ask the Father to send the Advocate to teach and to remind them of everything that Jesus had said to them.

A week later, on the Feast of Pentecost, we commemorated the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles that empowered them to spread the message of Jesus Christ and establish the early Christian Church.

Another week later, on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we reflected on the mystery surrounding the central tenet of Christian theology, and that is One God in Three Persons; the Father (God Almighty), the Son (Jesus, the Word made flesh), and the Holy Spirit (from the Hebrew word “ruach”, which means breath, wind, or spirit). One contemporary description of the Holy Spirit is the power and presence of God in the world. 

Today’s article is on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which in Catholic theology are special graces bestowed by the Holy Spirit to the faithful to help them respond to God’s call to holiness. According to Catholic tradition the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and the Fear of the Lord. These are accepted as character traits that Jesus Christ alone possesses in their fullness, but that he freely shares with the members of the body of the Church. These traits are infused at one’s baptism and sealed in the sacrament of confirmation.

According to Saint Thomas Aquinas in his compendium Summa Theologica, these gifts are “habits,” “instincts,” or “dispositions” bestowed by God to help the faithful in the body of Christ in their respective process of “perfection.” They enable one to transcend the limitations of human reason and human nature and participate in the very life of God.

The seven gifts as described below are adaptations taken from the book, The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit by the Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli. This book was one of the resources used for my Apostolic Project, where I led a small group discussion over a period of several weeks.

The Gift of Wisdom: Living in Friendship with God

Wisdom helps us judge what is important, meaningful, and purposeful. It is seeing everything including the world situations, conjunctures, and problems with God’s eyes. Often we see things as we want to see them or according to our heart whether with love, with hate, or with envy. Wisdom is what God does within us so that we can see with God’s eyes, which is becoming more important in our increasingly secular age.

The Gift of Understanding: Seeing Through the Heart

Understanding helps us comprehend the truths of our faith, enabling us to go beyond the boundaries of human reason and attain a knowledge that we could not attain on our own.

To know something is different from understanding it. One can know a lot of facts about someone, but that is different from truly understanding that person. Human intellect is limited and so, the Holy Spirit provides a deeper, intuitive grasp of divine truths.

The Gift of Knowledge: The Desire for the Infinite

Knowledge helps us to know God and to value things correctly, to see all created realities in their essential dependence on and in relation to God. This gift helps us to be detached from the world and to understand the meaning and purpose God has in our lives and in the events that occur in our lives.

The Gift of Counsel: A Guide to the Present

Counsel is the gift of right judgement that helps us differentiate between right and wrong, helps in our decision making and in the timing of such. It is the virtue of prudence that is elevated to a supernatural level.

The Gift of Fortitude: The Victory over Fear

Fortitude is the gift of courage and endurance. Is not reckless, but a reasoned courage to stand up for the truth, justice, and dignity of the human person and the common good. It empowers us to speak (when our voice trembles) to act (even if we act alone). It doesn’t guarantee success but enables us to be courageous in our faith.

The Gift of Piety: True Loyalty to God and to Neighbor

Piety helps us maintain the proper reverence for God and helps us obey God out of love. It allows us to follow the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and makes it easier to trust God (even when we don’t understand His will). It opens the way for us to live our lives in intimacy with God and prompts us to pray and to live our lives as a continual conversion with God. Our words, deeds, and silence become a prayer. It helps us to respect and love others with practical charity, coming to assist them in their need (as children of God).

The Gift of Fear of the Lord: Joy-filled Awe in the Presence of God

Fear of the Lord helps us to adopt a proper disdain for sin and to live in awe of God’s goodness and love. The biblical understanding is not a fear of pain arising from the anticipation of evil, but instead is a filial fear of reverence, awe, and obedience.

May we always remember that as the Body of Christ, we the faithful are called to be the hands and feet of Christ until He comes again. We each have different gifts that come from the same Holy Spirit, and we are called to share our gifts to participate in the mission of the Church, to grow in our faith, and to better the lives of those we encounter in our efforts to bring about God’s reign.


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