Gift of the Holy Spirit

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are gifts which assist us in furthering our sanctification and help “complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them.” The term “gift” means that the Holy Spirit bestows them; they are supernatural gifts operating in a supernatural manner. They are not gifts one simply invokes in times of emergency. The gifts are enumerated in Isaiah 11:2-3.

The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are:
Wisdom – The gift of wisdom allows us to see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the joys and sorrows of our lives take on deeper meaning.

Understanding – The gift of understanding allows us to comprehend how we should to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by the conflicting messages in our culture about the correct way to live. Similar to “common sense,” the gift of understanding perfects a person’s speculative reason in the apprehension of truth. St. Thomas Aquinas described it is as a gift “whereby self-evident principles are known.”

Counsel (Right Judgment) – The gift of right judgment allows us to see the difference between right and wrong, and to choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Christ. This gift of truth allows the person to respond prudently and happily to God’s commandments.

Fortitude (Courage) – The gift of fortitude allows us to overcome our fears and to be willing to take risks as a follower of Christ. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, condemnation, or even physical injury and death. Courage gives us the firmness of heart to do good and endure evil.

Knowledge – By the gift of knowledge, we understand knowledge of the meaning of God’s Revelation, especially as expressed in the life and words of Jesus Christ. A person with knowledge is always learning more about Scriptures, Sacred Tradition and the teachings of the Church. It is not simply an accumulation of facts and figures.

Piety (Reverence) – With the gift of piety or reverence, have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that Piety “is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit’s instigation, we pay worship and duty to God as our Father.”

Fear of the Lord – Fear of the Lord is more closely related to “awe,” and allows us to be aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love. This gift is described by St. Thomas Aquinas as a fear of separating oneself from God. He describes the gift as a “filial fear,” like a child’s fear of offending his father, rather than a “servile fear,” that is, a fear of punishment.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are something for which we need to pray. We beg the Holy Spirit to give us these gifts! And here is a good traditional prayer:

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, didst promise to send the Holy Ghost to finish Thy work in the souls of Thy Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me, that He may perfect in my soul the work of Thy grace and Thy 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 Thy 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 Thee, 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, 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 Thy true disciples and animate me in all things with Thy Spirit. Amen.