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Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit

"Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may be holy.  Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.  Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.  Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.  Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy."  Saint Augustine

Moral Life 

"The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  These are permanent disposition which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord...They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them...

The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory.  The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them:  charity, joy, peace, patience,m kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1830-1832, Galatians 5:22-23)

Gifts of the Spirit 

Only one thing is important - eternal salvation.  Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared, sin.  Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love.  The gifts of the Spirit enlighten the mind, strengthen the will, and inflame the heart with love for God. Pray for them.  

"The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
 for we do not know how to pray as we ought, 
but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groaning."
(Romans 8:26)

The Gift of Fear of the Lord 

The gift of Fear does not mean that we are afraid of God, but that we are filled with a sense of wonder at how great God is.  This gift fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread sinning against Him or being separated from Him.  It is a fear that arises, not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and a filial submission to our heavenly Father.  It is this fear that is the beginning of the gift of Wisdom which starts to detach us from any interest in worldly pleasures that would separate us from God.

The Gift of Piety 

The gift of Piety inspires us to love and respect for Our Lord's sake persons and things consecrated to Him, as well as those who are vested with His authority, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, the Church and its visible Head, our parents and superiors, our country and its rulers. One example would be genuflecting or bowing in front of the tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament resides in our Churches.  Or treating those we interact with with respect. When we are filled with the gift of Piety we find that the practice of our faith is not a burdensome duty, but a delightful service to our God and Creator.

The Gift of Fortitude 

Even when we know what the right choice is, it  can be difficult to make that choice.  The gift of Fortitude gives us the courage to live our faith life every day.  By the gift of Fortitude our soul is strengthened against a natural fear of doing what is right when faced with pressure to do what is wrong. Fortitude also imparts to the will the ability to undertake without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face danger, and even to endure martyrdom.

The Gift of Knowledge 

The gift of Knowledge enables our soul to evaluate created things in their relation to God.  This is the kind of knowledge that comes after prayer, when the Spirit speaks to our hearts and enlightens in us what is true, unmasking the pretense and emptiness of the world, and pointing us to what is the true purpose of all of our daily endeavors to glorify and serve God.

The Gift of Understanding 

There are things about our faith which can be confusing.  The gift of Understanding helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion, to understand their goodness and learn to appreciate them.  Through the gift of Understanding, our faith ceases to be sterile but takes on a new life.

The Gift of Counsel 

The gift of Counsel helps us to  make the right choices, ones that are loving and not self serving. There are times when one person will tell us to do one thing and another something else.  Both seem right, but what should we do? The gift of Counsel endows our soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what should be done, especially in a difficult circumstance.  Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily lives.  Counsel might be called supernatural common sense.

The Gift of Wisdom  

Part of Wisdom is common sense, but it also means listening to our elders, parents and grandparents who have many lessons to teach us.  Wisdom also means listening to the voice of the Spirit in our heart.  The gift of Wisdom embodies all the other Gifts of the Spirit.  Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts.  It is this gift that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of 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 of 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.

Pray the Novena to the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit - Corrado Giaquinto

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