Monday, May 6, 2013

... And What About Those "Traditional" Gifts of the Holy Spirit?

I had a great time talking with Sean Herriot earlier today on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air.  We started off talking about my last post on the charisms of the Holy Spirit mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, but the focus quickly shifted to talking about the way Confirmation both opens us to these gifts as well as releases the “Traditional” Gifts of the Spirit.  So what are the Traditional Gifts, and where do we hear of them in Scripture?

The come from the Book of Isaiah, in a prophecy about the coming Messiah.  
 “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord – and he will delight in the fear of the Lord” (Is.11:2).
These are the gifts that the Holy Spirit poured out on Jesus’ human nature.  When you and I were baptized, we were united to Jesus’ human nature –as spiritual infants.  In the Sacrament of Confirmation we are incorporated even more deeply into Jesus, so that the gifts lavished upon His humanity are fully active within our own.

Let me say it a slightly different way:  Because we are living in Jesus we can act with the gifts the Spirit poured out on Him - His wisdom, His understanding, His counsel and strength, knowledge, awe, and fear of the Lord! We are empowered to love with His heart and think with His mind (1 Cor. 2:16)!

These seven gifts are traditional in the sense that they are always given; if you had hands laid on you in Confirmation then you have full access to these gifts – guaranteed.  (It is not so for the charisms.) 
Lets take a moment to examine these gifts in more detail.  There are different ways to group them.  I see them building upon one another:
  • Fear of the Lord – the respect a child has for his/her parents. We do not stand in terror of God, but we do recognize that our Father in Heaven loves us so much that He will discipline us if need be. He loves us just as we are, but He loves us too much to let us remain the way we are!
  • Piety – our realization of God’s Love for us moves us to respond to Him in prayer, both private and communal. We come to hear God’s Word for us, both from other believers and within our own souls.
  • Knowledge – this entering into the Father’s Presence and listening to His Word empowers us to grow in what we know of the Truth.
  • Understanding – as we seek His guidance, the Spirit leads us to penetrate this Truth, perceive its meaning for us and other believers.
  • Wisdom – we are the led in applying this understanding.
  • Counsel – the Spirit will guide us in making specific decisions, and
  • Fortitude – strengthen us to persevere in doing what we now know to be right.

Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist – these are the Sacraments of Initiation, initiation into the very life of Christ Jesus!
His Church
  Conceived by the Holy Spirit, free from original sin.
Baptism – conceived by the Spirit and freed from original sin (and the guilt of personal sins)
Baptized in the Jordan – Anointed with the Holy Spirit and His gifts to perform His ministry
Confirmation – anointed with the Spirit, and His gifts, to participate in Jesus’ ministry
Gave Himself to the Father, completely and without reservation from the time of His conception right through His Death, Resurrection, and Ascension
Eucharist – incorporation into Jesus as He offers Himself to the Father through His Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension

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