Rotating Header Image

Holy Spirit

A Beginner’s Guide To The 7 Gifts Of The Holy Spirit

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.
(CCC 1241)

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.

(CCC 1303)

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.

The Church – The Ultimate Guardian Of Truth!

If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.  If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’   If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.  If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.  Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven  (Mt 18:15-18).

In yesterday’s post,  I looked at how the Holy Spirit protects the Church from teaching error.  The words of Jesus are clear as He promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide His followers to the truth.  As further evidence that this protection is with His Church and not necessarily with individuals, let’s take a look more of the Lord’s words.

If one disciple sins against another, Jesus provides a course of action.  First, the wronged party should inform the guilty party in private.  If that is ineffective, Jesus recommends “two or three” witnesses be utilized.  If even that doesn’t work, take the matter to the Church.  If the sinner still refuses to repent…you can use your imagination, but I wouldn’t want to be that person!  The Lord further emphasizes the fact that the Church has the authority to make earthly decisions that will be upheld in Heaven.  That, my friends, is what I call authority!  From this, we can conclude that the Church we’re looking for can teach authoritatively and make binding moral decisions.

Due to the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, we’ll take a break from our journey for a few days.  When we resume on Tuesday, we’ll look at the most important passage covered thus far!

Next Tuesday: Jesus founded a Church (Matthew 16:18-19)

Letting The Holy Spirit Guide You To The Truth

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming (Jn 16:13).

Now that we’ve established that God wants us to know the truth and that the Church is the guardian of that truth, we need to look at some important words from Jesus.  In John’s Gospel, the Lord tells us that the Holy Spirit will guide us to the truth.  Initially a comforting statement, further reflection makes us wonder how this is possible.  What if you and I both ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and end up with different versions of the truth?  In reality, this is a common problem which occurs in many Christian churches.  The idea of personal infallible interpretation of the Bible (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) falls apart the minute any 2 Christians disagree about a doctrinal matter!  If the Holy Spirit is guiding us to ALL truth, then no two believers could ever come up with conflicting beliefs.  There must be something else to Our Lord’s promise…

If the Church is the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tm 3:15) and the Holy Spirit will “guide us to all truth” (Jn 16:13), then doesn’t it follow that the guidance of the Holy Spirit must lie with the Church and not with individuals?  As we continue our search for the one, true Church, we need to find a Church which claims to teach authoritatively under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

Tomorrow: A look at Church authority (Matthew 18:15-18)