We learn about them in Isaiah 11:2-3 “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of Counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and piety, and his delight shall be fear of the Lord.”
The gifts are given to us to enrich our lives and help us grow in holiness. Part of our catechesis must include how to use the gifts. The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 1830 states: “The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.”
The Bible refers to these as the fruits of the spirit because they are works that we can only perform with the aid of the Holy Spirit. They contrast with the works of the flesh that Paul lists in Galatians chapter five. Infused with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if by instinct, what would Jesus do.
The Psalms tell us that Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of the Lord is an awareness of the awesomeness of God that inspires reverence and worship.
Wisdom is desired because it is the perfection of faith. Through the gift of wisdom we value things in relationship to God’s plan. Wisdom will help us order our relationship to the world in the light of faith.
Understanding builds upon wisdom. It allows us to grasp the essence of the truth and gain a certitude about how it deepens our relationship with God. We not only see God’s plan, we see the consequences of living in relationship or breaking faith with God.
Counsel enlightens our conscience so we are able to judge how to best act. Counsel helps us perfect the virtue of prudence, one of the Cardinal virtues.
Fortitude is both a gift of the Holy Spirit and a Cardinal virtue. Having wisdom to see God’s grand plan and understanding of how to live accordingly. Counsel guides our choices and fortitude empowers us to act courageously in relationship to God in the face of opposition.
Like wisdom and understanding, knowledge is the perfection of the faith that enables us to act with a certitude of being in the State of Grace. Like Counsel, it is aimed at our actions.
Piety perfects the virtue of religion. Justice is the virtue that consists of giving God his due. Piety is more than fulfilling our obligations to God, it entails loving and serving God with our whole being.
Father Pat Toner is chaplain to the Columbus Courage Chapter. He is also pastor at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, 140 West Ave., Plain City. He can be reached at email@example.com or 614-873-8850.