As Catholics, we strive to grow in our understanding of and our role in our faith. This ongoing quest is supported by works like Faith Reflections and other resources to be part of the way we continually develop our faith, and keep our mind and spirit in sync.
Yet we do discover on this path that there are significant, foundational aspects of our spiritual lives that come to us not out of our own seeking, but by the grace of God. Gifts of wisdom, understanding, judgement, knowledge, courage, reverence, and wonder are freely given to us. Through them, the Holy Spirit leads us to an instinctual way of actively living our faith.
Each of these gifts is meant to cultivate in us a readiness to receive God’s guidance and strength for our lives. Our receptiveness to the gifts from the Holy Spirit is declared at Baptism and then again at Confirmation. The gifts’ presence in us is like a spiritual awareness making us more awake to the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The prophet Isaiah gives us the basis of our understanding of what is known as these seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-2).
The following are brief profiles of the gifts the Holy Spirit bestows on each of us.
• Wisdom gives us a great capacity and desire to reflect on God and our life in Him even as we continue to constantly learn more about ourselves and what it means to live as a child of God.
• Understanding helps us grasp the truths of faith in time, and to accept them even when we don’t fully comprehend them. This strengthens our insights through prayer and the sacraments.
• Right judgement cultivates our knowing right from wrong. We acknowledge how important this is through self-examination that continues throughout our life.
• Courage is our fortitude, helping us to overcome our fears through hope and knowing we are never alone.
• Knowledge is that tremendous strength we cultivate from knowing God and choosing goodness—making decisions in the light of faith.
• Reverence is our deep respect for God that the Holy Spirit inspires in us. This enables us to humbly give ourselves, our burdens, and our joys over to God.
• Through wonder and awe, we know God’s perfection to enough of a degree that we embrace a healthy “fear of the Lord.” Not a fear of being punished, but a fear of offending. Out of wonder and awe, we also tap into God’s hope and healing power.
"This is good and pleasing to God . . . who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth."