Thursday after Ascension in the 7th Week of Easter

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Spiritus tuus, quaesumus, Domine,
spiritalia nobis dona potenter infundat,
ut det nobis mentem, quae tibi sit placita,
et aptet nos tuae propitius voluntati.

Keep in mind our discussion of apto in many of these entries and the WDTPRS articles in the paper.

We beseech You, O Lord,
powerfully pour into us spiritual gifts,
so that He may give us a mind which is pleasing to You,
and may propitiously conform us to You will.

What are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?  Is this what makes some people jump around and “speak in tongues” and all that?  Let’s take a closer look and what the technical term “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” means.  We have to be brief, however.  May some of you can add additional references.

We know about the Gifts from revelation, though they are entirely reasonable.  In Isaiah 11:1-3, which concerns the Messiah to come, we read:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.  And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear….

Fathers of the Church interpreted this in light of Romans 8:29 to extend also to those who are Christ’s faithful, part of Him: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.”  So, the Gifts in Isaiah extend to the faithful in whom the Spirit dwells.  The Patristic elaboration of this theological principle was later assumed by a Roman Synod in 382 at the time of Pope Damasus. 

In the liturgy we have the mighty hymn Veni Creator Spiritus with its Tu septiformis munere digitus paternae dexterae.  The sequence for Pentecost also says sacrum septinarium.  In the rite for Confirmation the bishop prays over confirmands invoking the gifts of the Spirit:

All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
And gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of [1] wisdom and [2] understanding,
the spirit of [3] right judgment and [4] courage,
the spirit of [5] knowledge and [6] reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of [7] wonder and awe in your presence.

The excellent and still useful Catechism of the Council of Trent also explains the gifts.  You can find chapters as well in the newer CCC.

The Gifts are supernatural infused habits. We distinguish them, however, from the virtues and from actual graces. They are wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord. The first four habits affect the intellect and the last three the will. You could also say that the first four relate to contemplative life with the corresponding intellectual virtues and the last three to the active life with the corresponding moral virtues. Among the first four, which concern the intellect, understanding helps us to attain to the truth of things, while wisdom, knowledge and counsel help us to make good judgments about, respectively, divine things (wisdom), created things (knowledge) and practical conduct (counsel).The last three concern more the appetites.Piety helps us in relation to others, namely, God, parents/family and country. Fortitude and fear of the Lord, however, concern the appetites and our own selves, namely, in regard to dangerous things (fortitude) and disordered concupiscence (fear of the Lord).  By these supernatural Gift/habits the intellect and will are better disposed to receive the help of the Holy Spirit and then, with that illumination and help, act properly. By contrast, virtues dispose the faculties to act properly according to reason).

We have these Gifts, or infused habits, together with habitual grace, which we also call sanctifying grace, and they are lost when we lose habitual grace.That is to say, when we are in the state of grace we have the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. When we commit a mortal sin and lose sanctifying grace we also lose the Gifts.So, we can say that the Gifts relate to the theological virtues as the moral virtues relate to the intellectual virtues. The Gifts are also associated with the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, which spring forth as fruit from a branch, and the Beatitudes.Writers like St. Thomas Aquinas, however, teach that the Fruits are more perfect than the Gifts, and that the Beatitudes are the crown of Christian life on earth.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA, WDTPRS. Bookmark the permalink.

One Comment

  1. Don Marco says:

    Lord, we beseech you,
    let your Spirit powerfully pour out spiritual gifts upon us,
    so as to give us a mind for the things that are pleasing to you,
    and graciously fit us to your will.

Comments are closed.