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The Holy Spirit

"When the day of Pentecost had come . . . there appeared to them tongues of fire . . . they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:1-4). Thus, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Church, just as it had descended as a dove upon Jesus at His baptism (Matthew 3:16).

The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity. It is the Holy Spirit that gives life to the Church. He does this through His gifts, fruits, and charisms.

Based on Isaiah 11:2, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. The first four have to do with the intellect, and the last four have to do with the will, which are disposed to act with the enlightening of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom gives us the ability to see things the way God sees them, to judge correctly concerning matters pertaining to godly living. Understanding gives us deeper insights into the mysteries of our religion, helping us to live more Christ-like. Counsel enables us to make the right decisions. Knowledge enables us to see the spiritual value and usefulness of all creatures, but to recognize the futility in pursuing anything as an end but God alone. Fortitude provides us with the strength to love God and serve Him, even when it is difficult to do so. Piety inspires us to give God reverence for who He is and to love and serve others for the fact that they are God's children. Fear of the Lord is an awe and reverence for God, including a respect for His punishments, resulting in the fear of sin.

Based on Galatians 5:22-23, the fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longsuffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and chastity. These "fruits" are said to be acts produced by virtue, and not the virtues themselves. Charity is the love of God and the love of neighbor because of the love of God. Joy is to serve God cheerfully. Peace is to remain calm in times of trouble. Patience is to bear trials, resigning oneself to God's will and not giving in to despair or sadness. Benignity is kindness. Goodness is all the qualities and virtues that God wishes us to have. Longsuffering is patience extended over a long period of time. Mildness is gentleness. Faith is to believe all that God has revealed. Modesty is to observe moderation in all things, so as not to over-indulge or over-inflate oneself. Continency is to have control over impure acts and desires. Chastity is to be pure in word, thought, and deed.

The charisms of the Holy Spirit number many, but Paul identifies some by name. These are found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. A recent movement called the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has made use of these charisms. They include word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discernment of spirits (The Interpretive Gifts–the "power to know"), faith, healing, miracles (The Sign Gifts–the "power to do"), tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy (The Word Gifts–the "power to say").

Something called the "baptism in the Holy Spirit" has been experienced by many people who identify themselves as "Charismatics". This "baptism" is a release of the Holy Spirit, resulting in a greater desire to pray, read Scripture, receive the sacraments, and make Jesus "Lord", or give him complete control of one's life. The "baptism in the Holy Spirit" also results in the manifestation of these charisms, which one makes use of at prayer meetings. These meetings consist of songs and prayers of praise, prophecy or inspired teaching, Scripture reading, prayer and the use of tongues and interpretation, instruction–prepared or spontaneous, intercession–for various intentions including prayers for healing and miracles, and witnessing to the work of the Lord in one's life. All nine charisms identified by Paul are used at the meetings. Word of Wisdom is the gift whereby a person receives insight into God's plan in a given situation and is empowered to give instruction or advice because of this insight. Word of Knowledge is the gift whereby a person receives insight into a mystery of faith, or in man's relationship to God, and is enabled to express it in a way that others will grasp. Discernment of Spirits is the gift whereby a person is able to know whether the source of an inspiration is from the person, the Holy Spirit, or the devil. Faith is the gift whereby one, at a given moment, believes, eliminates all doubt, and speaks so that what he says or asks in relation to this belief will come to pass, because he has received his certainty of faith by God Himself. Healing is the gift whereby physical or spiritual cures or renewals occur. Miracles is the gift whereby an extraordinary event or occurrence takes place due to the intervention of God. Tongues is the gift whereby one speaks in a language unknown to the speaker. Charismatics also pray in tongues, by yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit. Interpretation of Tongues is the gift whereby one interprets a message spoken in tongues. Prophecy is the gift whereby gives a message from God.

Catholic Tracts


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