As we approach the Solemnity of Pentecost, I thought it would be a good idea to focus on the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Referenced in the Bible by the prophet Isaiah (Is 11:1-10), these gifts remain a mystery to many Catholics. Those of you who remember the Baltimore Catechism will probably be able to rattle them off instinctively, but for the benefit of anyone who isn’t familiar with them, the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.
Over the course of the next several days, we’ll discuss each gift in detail. For today, let’s just look at the gifts in general. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches that we initially receive the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism.
The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one “anointed” by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king.
The sacrament of Confirmation then “completes” the grace received at Baptism.
1. From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace.
2. It roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!
3. It unites us more firmly to Christ.
4. It increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us.
5. It renders our bond with the Church more perfect.
6. It gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.
Those of us who have received the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation possess the Holy Spirit and the 7 gifts, but what does that actually mean? Tomorrow, I’ll begin to look at the gifts in detail by focusing on the gift of wisdom. For now, let’s close with a prayer taken from a novena to the Holy Spirit.
O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit on Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord with the sign of Your true disciples, and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.
Next: The gift of Wisdom.