The 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit Explore the mystery of the Holy Spirit.
The 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit Explore the mystery of the Holy Spirit
Every day, we are faced with decisions. Some don’t have a great impact. But others have serious consequences. But we can get help. The Holy Spirit dwells within us. According to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” if we want “to be in touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit. He comes to meet us and kindles faith in us. By virtue of our Baptism, the first sacrament of the faith, the Holy Spirit in the Church communicates to us, intimately and personally, the life that originates in the Father and is offered to us in the Son.”
The Holy Spirit can help us make good decisions if we pray for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that are “in their fullness” in Jesus. The gifts include wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. According to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” they not only “complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them,” they also “make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.” But before praying for these gifts, we can try to get insight into what they mean. Here are explorations of each of them.
In 2014, Pope Francis gave a series of catecheses on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When speaking about wisdom, the pontiff said that Holy Spirit gives us this gift after we have developed a close relationship with God. “And wisdom is precisely this: it is the grace of being able to see everything with the eyes of God,” said Pope Francis. He later added “Sometimes we see things according to our liking or according to the condition of our heart, with love or with hate, with envy.... No, this is not God’s perspective. Wisdom is what the Holy Spirit works in us so as to enable us to see things with the eyes of God.”
After giving the first talk in the series about wisdom, Pope Francis gave the second talk about the gift of understanding. He explained that it doesn’t refer to human understanding. It’s an intuitive type of understanding that goes beyond the surface to seek God’s plan of salvation and His will in a situation.
“Jesus himself told his disciples: I will send you the Holy Spirit and he will enable you to understand all that I have taught you,” the Pope told the crowd. “To understand the teachings of Jesus, to understand his Word, to understand the Gospel, to understand the Word of God. One can read the Gospel and understand something, but if we read the Gospel with this gift of the Holy Spirit, we can understand the depths of God’s words.”
For the third talk in the series, Pope Francis spoke about the gift of counsel. He said that through this gift it is “God Himself, through His Spirit, Who enlightens our heart so as to make us understand the right way to speak and to behave and the way to follow.” He also spoke about how important it is to “make room for the Spirit” by praying for the Holy Spirit to “come and help us always.”
He shared an experience he had when he was hearing confessions. He said “a very modern young man” went to tell him what he was going through. “It was a big and difficult problem,” Pope Francis admitted. “And he said to me: ‘I told my mother all this and my mother said to me, go to Our Lady and she will tell you what you must do.’ Here is a woman who had the gift of counsel. She did not know how to help her son out of his problem, but she indicated the right road: go to Our Lady and she will tell you. This is the gift of counsel. That humble, simple woman gave her son the truest counsel. In fact, this young man said to me: ‘I looked at Our Lady and I felt that I had to do this, this and this...’ I did not have to speak; his mother and the boy himself had already said everything".
Many years earlier, in 1989, St. John Paul II gave a similar series of reflections. In his reflection on fortitude, he explained that both timidity and aggressiveness are traits in which there is a lack of this gift. “Perhaps today as never before the moral virtue of fortitude needs the support of the corresponding gift of the Holy Spirit,” St. John Paul II said. “The gift of Fortitude is a supernatural impulse which gives strength to the soul, not only on exceptional occasions such as that of martyrdom, but also in normal difficulties: in the struggle to remain consistent with one's principles: in putting up with insults and unjust attacks: in courageous perseverance on the path of truth and uprightness, in spite of lack of understanding and hostility.”
In another part of the same series, St. John Paul II reflected on the gift of knowledge. He said that the gift allows us to “know the true value of creatures in their relationship to the Creator.”
“He thus discovers the theological meaning of creation, seeing things as true and real, although limited, manifestations of the Truth, Beauty, and infinite Love which is God, and consequently he feels impelled to translate this discovery into praise, song, prayer, and thanksgiving,” explained the saint who was then Pope John Paul II.
In one of the final parts of the series, the saint reflected on the gift of piety. He proclaimed that with this gift, the Holy Spirit “heals our hearts of every form of hardness and opens them to tenderness towards God and our brothers and sisters.”
“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,” said St. John Paul II. “The ‘pious’ Christian always sees others as children of the same Father, called to be part of the family of God which is the Church.”
Fear of the Lord
Both Popes concluded their series with reflections on the gift of fear of the Lord. They also both assured their audiences that the gift doesn’t make us turn away from God in fear. It also doesn’t mean that we will believe that He isn’t a Loving God. Instead, it helps us to realize His true greatness and authority. It helps us to repent and turn away from sin. In 2 Corinthians 7:1, the Apostle St. Paul writes “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”
In Romans 5:5, St. Paul, the Apostle, reminds us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” By praying to the Holy Spirit for these seven gifts, that love will guide us and help us to share it through our decisions and in all aspects of our lives.